Gun forum gets testy at Oak Park village hall

Supporters and opponents have their say on conceal and carry


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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Tempers flared Wednesday night as an audience of about 40 opponents and supporters of carrying concealed handguns squared off at a town hall meeting at Oak Park Village Hall, hosted by state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-8th).

Ford said he was continuing to gather information after he declined to pick a side in May and voted "present" on a bill that would allow the issuance of permits to carry concealed firearms to people who are at least 21.

Ford recently proposed a house resolution that would create a Firearm Public Awareness Task Force, he said. The task force would analyze data about the types and number of crimes in places where conceal and carry is legal.

Some supporters of conceal and carry said guns were the best form of self-defense.

"Don't I get to defend myself in the most effective manner?" shouted Keith Turner, a Waukegan resident who is part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Turner said because he wants to be able to carry a concealed gun, "I instantly become a criminal."

Opponents voiced retorts from the audience, asking what happened to Turner to make him want so strongly to carry a gun.

Gerald Vernon, who is part of the Chicago Firearms Safety Association, said the courts have consistently ruled that police are not responsible for individual security. In that case, Vernon said, the state shouldn't deny the option for people to be responsible for themselves.

But Mark Walsh, the campaign director with the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, countered that someone intending to do harm with a gun will get it out before the other person can defend himself. He referred to a permit owner in Arizona who stood next to Jared Loughner in Tucson earlier this year and couldn't get his gun out in time.

Walsh read off a list of places — including train stations, airports, grocery stores hospitals and more — where guns would be allowed to be concealed.

"In our opinion, there's no need to have more guns in public places," he said.

Other supporters spoke about protecting their families.

Dr. Paula Bratich said guns are just tools that "increase your chances of coming home to your family," and owners should be trained.

Hector Rodriguez, who lives in Austin with his wife and three kids, said he doesn't hide his gun and prefers his kids to be educated about it.

He said his wife often drives home with their 8-year-old daughter late at night, and if someone snuck into their garage and his wife had a gun, she would at least have the option of trying to arm herself.

Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, argued that someone carrying a concealed gun is the same person without one.

"Do you trust your doctor?" he asked a man in the audience who said he was still making up his mind about the issue. If a doctor carried a gun because he had to work in a rough neighborhood, Vandermyde said, the doctor is the same person that patients know and won't become a raging lunatic just because he carries one.

"There are people who need guns to be safe," said Morris Seeskin, another attendee. While he said he wanted to feel safe, not knowing everyone he or his family encountered would make him feel uncomfortable. He didn't want to have to fear for his grandchild, who might go down the street to visit a friend whose father has a gun and "goes off the handle."

Ford, who spent time talking with a long line of attendees after the meeting, said he may hold a similar forum in the western suburbs soon.

Reader Comments

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MIlton Mckinney III from oak park   

Posted: October 17th, 2011 8:34 AM

Last time I checked this was oak park, not the wildwest. If oakpark police department can work with chicago's forensics lab to fix a ipad, they can work with the community to keep us safe... careful of what you ask for oak park


Posted: October 15th, 2011 3:08 PM

Its time this paper exposes the supporters behind the election of Ford. The love affair with him needs to end.


Posted: October 14th, 2011 11:03 PM

Representative Ford, I thank God for you. Your genuine concern for mankind, your diligence, and brilliance. Re: Conceal and Carry, the sad reality is that we are living in a time in history where we need to be able to protect ourselves against those who value goods over a LIFE. Poverty is leading folks to sin and immorality and the Republicans do not seem to care.


Posted: October 14th, 2011 8:57 PM

Also, why is there a guy from Waukegan coming to a town hall meeting in Oak Park? Also, why do these State Coalition folks keep coming to these town hall meetings? Shouldn't Ford be talking to his Constituents, and Neighborhood based organizations, churches, schools, etc? Instead of having town halls in different places, but pretty much continue having the same crowd of State Coalition folks???

Silly OP  

Posted: October 14th, 2011 8:56 PM

My dear mother likes to say that guns are toys for boys. Girls should be more concerned about their curls. A wise lady and words to LIVE by.

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: October 14th, 2011 8:54 PM

How is it fair and balanced? Tired of News outlets tip-toeing around issues and making sure those who have conservatives leanings don't trash it as "liberal media." Fair and balanced would have been FAIRLY balanced in terms of quoting those FOR and AGAINST Concealed carry. It didn't, it was mostly those for it. I think its decent reporting, but far from "fair and balanced."


Posted: October 14th, 2011 8:31 PM

More love in the news:,0,7657574.story

Pipe Down Q  

Posted: October 14th, 2011 1:54 PM

Q from Oak Park...PUT A LID ON IT! If people didn't have such a habit of voting off of name recognition you probably wouldn't see signs like this. How much do you vote for people you don't know? If you really want him to represent his constituency then you won't be happy when he votes for conceal and carry. He does not represent Oak Park. He represents the 8th District of which Oak Park is in.

Well endowed enough to not need a gun  

Posted: October 14th, 2011 11:40 AM

There are 49 other states that gun nuts can move to in order to stroke their guns in public. There is no need for Illinois to become another one.


Posted: October 14th, 2011 11:34 AM

49 is NOT 50.

Dr. G from Chicago  

Posted: October 14th, 2011 11:32 AM

First I would like to thank ms. rose for a fair and balanced article. I would also like to thank Rep. LaShawn Ford for holding these meetings to find out what his constituency actually thinks about this issue rather than assuming that he already knows what they want like most of the rest of his collegues. The anti gun nuts are on the loosing side of history. the lost in the other 49 states and will loose here too. The only real questions is WHEN will concrealed carry come to Illinois not if.


Posted: October 14th, 2011 9:03 AM

Can one put a gun in their spandex while biking? Why is it that most gun owners tend to be men? Maybe becasue men think a tad bit differently than women. In this case it makes sense to think like ladies.

jack from madison  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 9:51 PM

If you have any questions on the CWP law or training contact or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you.

Brian D.  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 8:44 PM

Q. Jobs, education and safety, ehh? I'd say Ford, and 99.9% of the remaining Illinois politicians, are lying sacks of (insert fecal related word here). In fact, if that is Ford's future campaign platform, he should be run out of the state for lying.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 8:35 PM

Politicians have big desires to have people follow them and know who they are. Notice the big send in front of him? It spells out his campaign.

Brian D.  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 8:28 PM

Q, I agree 100%. Ford, your typical smarmy democrat, was pathetic in his miserable attempt at trying to be 'neutral'. Typical liberal politician. In fact he could have left the meeting and his departure would have had zero effect on the content of the meeting. That anti-gun guy, Mark, had no real answers to anything either. And what answers he did offer were summarily knocked down by audience members doing instant fact checking on their smart phones. Can't lie to us anymore Mark!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 8:02 PM

Seems that Ford has found the way of gathering attention for himself. I don't think anything is really going to come of changing the law if everyone is going to count on Ford.

Brian D.  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 7:49 PM

Ms. Rose, A fair, balanced and very well written article. Well done. Too bad everyone is commenting on the story about the gun store article and not Ms. Rose's. To The Editor, Could you PLEASE buy Ms. Rose a camera worthy of her journalistic talent so she dosn't have to use her iPhone as a camera! Maybe a Nikon D70 with nice lens? Thanks.

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