An Illinois politician representing a predominantly black section of Chicago has gone on record that he would support concealed carry legislation if it came up for a vote at the state's General Assembly.
Rep. La Shawn Ford, an African-American, third-term Democrat representing a West Chicago district in the state legislature, would appear an unlikely gun rights advocate on paper.
But Ford told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes “black people want guns, and I know that sounds bad," referring to his constituents desire to legally protect themselves with firearms and the political sensitivities surrounding the topic.
Rep. Ford knows the legislative deck is stacked against him on concealed carry, but he believes those he represents are tired of being victimized by criminals who have guns already. To summarize the sentiments of his district regarding current firearms laws, Ford told to the Sun-Times:
“They’re saying we’re making criminals out of law-abiding citizens. They’re saying you’re only siding with the criminals because the criminals could care less about the law.”
Ford claimed he would support legislation to allow anyone in Illinois to apply for a concealed carry license if sponsors of the bill will add a provision requiring the National Rifle Association to pay for police sensitivity training.
The request for police sensitivity training has received support from NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, who agreed with Ford's concerns “about what happens when you have a black man with a [legal] gun” stopped by police in a city that has long banned concealed carry.
Illinois is currently the only state in the U.S. that refuses citizens permits to carry a firearm concealed. The complete ban on handguns in Chicago enacted in 1982 was reversed last year by the Supreme Court, but the city has effectively regulated around the court's decision. Chicago politicians led the charge to scuttle concealed carry legislation that was voted on at the state level earlier this year.
While concealed carry legislation would face stiff opposition to passage, there has been some momentum gathering behind the 2nd Amendment in Illinois.
The plaintiff in the Supreme Court Case, McDonald vs. City of Chicago was an African-American who wanted to exercise his right to bear arms. There are rumors Sen. Annazette Collins, another West Side Chicago Democrat and black caucus member, would support a concealed carry law.
Whether that changing sentiment can get through to the Democrat-owned Chicago political machine remains an open question.
But if Ford represents the vanguard of a growing movement, Chicago could soon take center stage in the national fight for gun rights.