Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day (IGOLD) participants walk down Capitol Avenue in the pouring rain in Springfield early Wednesday afternoon before heading inside the Capitol to lobby their individual state legislators. David Spencer/The State Journal-Register

“Here in Illinois, first-time FOID card applications are being filed at a record pace, and the monthly tallies of firearm purchase background checks are setting records of their own,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

Although the number of FOID Cards issued in Illinois has reached an astounding 2,004,164 and continues to climb, gun owners in the Prairie State continue to fight for improved gun laws. Wednesday, The Illinois Gun Owner Lobby marched in solidarity through Springfield to the Capitol to lobby both House and Senate legislators.

Justin Stakes, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association (IRSA), reported:

Despite the rain, the enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Prairie Capital Convention Center to hear updates from NRA lobbyists Shannon Alford, Todd Vandermyde, and ISRA lobbyists Valinda Rowe, and myself.
Massad Ayoob, legendary firearms instructor, and Chip Eberhart from the NRA ads (Freedom’s Safest Place), both gave rousing speeches. Every speaker made you proud to be a gun owner and an ISRA member.

“The most important thing is to keep the concealed carry laws we have and to expand in a positive way to keep criminals prosecuted and citizens safe,” said Georgina Slowinski, who helped coordinate transportation for the marchers. “I’m lucky to live in a country and a state where our leadership may not agree, but we can speak our minds to keep our families safe and citizens secure.”

Lawmakers from both parties joined the gun rights advocates in the Capitol rotunda, where many of them addressed the crowd. Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said that although the lobbyists he spoke with weren’t looking for any specific change to the concealed carry law, he welcomes the discussion from citizens acutely aware of their gun rights.

“(Supporters) always want to talk about being vigilant for Second Amendment rights and keeping an eye on legislation they think may infringe upon Second Amendment rights,” Butler said.

“I don’t know if this fight will ever go away,” said Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur). “It should just be a God-given right. You shouldn’t have to come and fight for rights that should be inalienable.”

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was quick to point out the largest demographic of new gun owners and remind people that concealed carry is a woman’s issue, too. “Female gun ownership has gone up 77% since 2005, and I’m one of them,” Bourne declared proudly.

With bills like the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act introduced by IL Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), it looks like these citizens have good reason to stay vigilant.

Keep on marching, Illinois!