For Once, Illinois Gun Milestone a Good Thing

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Illinois is one of the more anti-gun states in the nation and I suspect they'd like to be even more anti-gun. They do seem to enjoy gun control, and I'm surprised they haven't restricted them nearly as much as somewhere like New York or California.

But that's probably coming sooner or later.

And, to be fair, the violence in Chicago is bad. While gun control won't solve it, I understand why they think it will and keep pushing for it.

Each milestone we hear out of the state regarding guns is just more troubling than the previous ones. It's either more death or more restrictions.

Yet the state just hit one milestone that, in my estimation, is a good thing.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced a milestone this week in its efforts to promote firearms safety: the distribution of over 100,000 free gun locks.


IDPH partnered with health departments and community groups statewide as part of the “Together for a Safer Illinois” campaign, making gun locks available at public events since June 2023.


“IDPH is thrilled to see the public interest in our gun lock distribution program,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “Preventing gun violence and injury is a critical public health goal, and gun locks are an important tool to prevent accidental shootings, gun violence, and suicide. 100,000 distributed gun locks are only the start of this important initiative. As IDPH and our partners work Together for a Safer Illinois, we look forward to continuing our gun lock distribution at events across Illinois this spring and summer.”

Now, understand that the gun locks in and of themselves are nothing special. Further, Illinois has a mandatory storage law, which I vehemently oppose as a general rule and their measure is nothing special in that regard.

So why is this a good milestone? Because it means more people are taking their firearm storage at least somewhat seriously.

"Yeah, because it's the law."

I honestly don't think that's it. 

See, while we follow the laws in various states keenly, most people don't. That includes most gun owners; especially since most gun owners aren't really gun rights advocates or politically active in general. As a result, a lot of people just don't realize that not securing a gun is illegal.

It's possible that as soon as people learn, they rush to get a lock, but I doubt it.

Instead, what we're seeing here are people who are genuinely interested in keeping their guns out of unauthorized hands. They're finding gun locks and are likely to use them.

This is good.

Yet Illinois has an opportunity here as well. Several states have at least considered measures that would make gun safes and similar storage devices for firearms tax-free. They've considered tax credits for buying such a safe.

Safes are much better options than gun locks, after all, especially with regard to preventing gun theft. Since that's how most firearms enter the black market, this should be something on Illinois lawmakers' radar.

100,000 gun locks in a year may well help prevent unintentional gunshot injuries, particularly to kids, but imagine what 100,000 gun safes in a year would do beyond that.

After all, I can defeat a gun lock given enough time. Anyone can.

But a safe is a tougher nut to crack and that's something most thieves aren't going to want to tangle with.

Illinois providing locks is a good thing, but they could make a bigger step forward. What's more, this is something the pro-gun and anti-gun sides actually agree on. The only grounds on which to oppose this is potentially on fiscal grounds, but since this doesn't actually cost the state money--and no, not taking in money isn't the same thing as costing it money--that's not really an argument.

It's clear people in Illinois are interested in securing their guns. That's good.

Now it's up to lawmakers to help them do better.