Protect Illinois Communities Act, High on Hyperbole and Low on Substance

The General Assembly was back in Springfield Wednesday and are expected to wrap up their work on the legislation banning assault weapons, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act. The arguments have largely been emotive rather than substantive.

“What high-capacity magazines do is turn they turn guns into hand-held killing machines,” Reverend Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church said. “No place in a civil society.”

So I suppose nobody has been killed with a low capacity weapon, especially in a mass shooting?

That is categorically not the case, but that does not stop it from being in the argument. I bet we’ll read the ‘if we can save just one life’ argument next.

“There is no doubt that if we can save a life, just one, a tradition says we can save a whole world.” – Rabbi Ike Serotta

There it is.

The problem is with the total absurd unquantifiability of the premise. Does someone shot with a low capacity handgun instead of a high capacity one count as a life saved, even if they die? Does a shooting that injures or kills multiple people but leaves uninjured survivors count as lives saved if it is later determined the shooter used a low capacity weapon deemed ‘safe’ instead of a high capacity one? Does someone who dies on account of having too little firearm to win their fight, or who was prevented from getting a firearm in time to be of use, count against that ‘one life saved’ net gain that we need for this to be a “just” law?

The moralistic imperative being pushed in the arguments for the PICA has not quantified boundary, there is no realistic measure for success and no discussion of the possibility of negative consequences. How many people go to prison or die because of this law who wouldn’t have otherwise? It’s as fair an argument and inquiry as promising that one life saved, one net life improvement over what otherwise would be the death toll, makes this an imperative to pass.

“Since the age of five, I’ve been learn to duck under desks, turn off the lights, lock the door,” said Stephanie Diaz, who is a junior at Highland Park High School.

I bet you were also taught stop, drop, and roll and where the tornado shelter location is. If the schools are really proactive, they showed you where first-aid kits and fire extinguishers are too and how to use them. Prudent emergency procedures do not provide logical support for a partial and ineffective prohibition on an inanimate object. Just because emergency procedures are scary doesn’t either, emergencies are scary things regardless of their origin.

We must craft policies for the reality of the world. We must accept that we cannot legislate fear away. We can’t ban fear and make it vanish. We cannot ban being afraid. We cannot ban things subjectively that make some people afraid. We cannot legislate to make someone feel safe subjectively. We can’t ban a weapon to make one group feel safer and make another feel less safe if we’re doing this for feelings, we have to weigh both groups feelings with equal regard since the feeling of safety is subjective.

In addition to banning assault-style weapons, if approved and signed into law, the bill would increase the age to own a FOID card from 18 to 21 and, set 10 as the limit of rounds per magazine. All of these provisions are under constitutional scrutiny other places and are very likely to be deemed unconstitutional.

The Illinois legislature is wasting time to appease feelings with policy that cannot work. That should be criminal, instead its just politics.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.