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Thread: Gun-packing activist gives up on Illinois

  1. #1
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    May 2006
    Olympia, WA

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    The following item appeared in the January 21, 2007 edition of the Chicago Tribune. Original URL:,1,7116897.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

    Concealed-carry backer heads south

    By Sara Olkon
    Tribune staff reporter

    Inside a four-bedroom home nestled within an Oak Brook woods forest preserve, a gun-rights advocate is packing his bags, including his notorious fanny pack.

    For nine years, John Birch, president of Concealed Carry Inc., has fought to loosen restrictions on concealed firearms. He made headlines in 2001 when he encouraged people to bring handguns in fanny packs to the Taste of Chicago, based on a novel -- and widely disputed -- interpretation that the action would qualify as legal transportation "enclosed in a case."

    He backed off the Taste of Chicago demonstration when police and prosecutors vowed to charge anybody who took up Birch's suggestion, but he continued to ruffle feathers with sometimes-outrageous pronouncements.

    No more.

    "I naively thought a rational discussion of gun law would lead logically to a concealed-carry law," said the divorced father of two.

    Birch is not affiliated with the John Birch Society -- an anti-Communist, right-wing group founded five years after he was born -- but he shares the Wisconsin-based organization's distaste for big government.

    And much of his displeasure is reserved for the City of Chicago, which, he said, is pockmarked by "liberal ideology."

    This month, Mayor Richard Daley called for passage of several bills by state lawmakers that would restrict sales and the types and numbers of weapons that Illinois residents could buy.

    But the re-election of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich tore hardest at Birch's activist spirit. The Republican candidate, Judy Baar Topinka, had signaled she would oppose stricter gun-control laws.

    "With Mr. Birch, I think he was realizing he didn't want to go through another four years of futility," said Thom Mannard, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

    Birch conceded as much. "I made the decision to give up after the election," he said. "Illinois has been going downhill. I just wasn't going to spend any more time."

    Concealed Carry's motto was "saving lives by arming citizens." Before Birch shuttered Concealed Carry last month, he said, there were 1,358 members, most of them men.

    His favorite memories include the Taste of Chicago flap and the time in 2003 his group held a handgun giveaway to Chicago residents.

    Todd Vandermyde, a Yorkville resident and legislative liaison for the National Rifle Association, said his group prefers a more "low-key" approach. He called Concealed Carry "marginally effective at best."

    "Their whole raison d'etre was to try and impact the concealed-carry debate," Mannard said. "John Birch did a very good job of trying to get attention to the issue. But there simply wasn't the support in the state legislature. Neither [former Gov. George] Ryan or Blagojevich supported it."

    Now Birch has given up on the state. The Hinsdale native, who lives on family money and helps care for his parents, has placed his $2.3 million home on the market. Inside he showcases hardcover copies of books by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Oliver North and Bill O'Reilly. In a cabinet in his den he keeps a custom-built .45 caliber Colt handgun, an M1 World War II infantry rifle, an Uzi submachine gun, a Glock pistol, and a .380 caliber Walther pistol.

    He is considering a move to some land he owns in Pensacola, Fla. The Sunshine State, he noted, passed a right-to-carry law in 1987.

    "They call it the gunshine state," he said, laughing. "I'd like to go where I can carry a gun. Where I can feel more me."

  2. #2
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    Aug 2006
    Gary, Indiana, USA

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    Admittedly, the fight to restore RKBA to the subjects of PRIL faces an uphill battle so long as Czar Daley's communist enclave known as Chicago maintains its death grip on the rest of the state. Even though I live in close proximity to King Richard's castle (just over the state line in Gary, IN), I can thank my lucky stars that I live in a free state and don't have to put up with this crap.

  3. #3
    State Researcher lockman's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Elgin, Illinois, USA

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    When I travel out of Illinois into Indiana, I will let the wife drive. It is much easier to load & holster when not operating a motor vehicle.

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