Criminals are Made, Not Born

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.


My parents live in Illinois. When I joined the Air Force I was in Illinois, so for official military records I am an Illinois resident. I was in the gun business in a Chicago suburb right after I graduated from college. What Illinois, like most States at the time did not have, was a concealed weapons carry permit law. You then and now could not even have a firearm readily available in your vehicle. It had to be unloaded and locked in your trunk. If you truly needed it for personal defense and you wanted to follow Illinois State Statues to the letter, you had a problem.

I am in Colorado now and this state has something that Illinois residents would be shocked to see in their state, an open carry law. You can put a firearm in a holster, slide it on our belt and carry that handgun in public. Colorado, like 47 other states, has a concealed weapons carry law, which allows citizens to go through a process to legally carry a firearm hidden on their person.

Illinois and Wisconsin, the two states where most of my immediate family live, are the only two states that do not allow a law abiding citizen to legally carry a concealed firearm.

Recently, they have had a shooting on the Northern Illinois University campus in which students were killed and the cowardly shooter took his own life to avoid criminal prosecution. When I called my parents after the shooting, my father asked my opinion on the subject, knowing I was a retired cop and had been to many a gunshot crime scene. I advised my father that I figured the first thing the State of Illinois would do would be to create more laws that prohibited it’s citizens from having firearms available to protect themselves.

You will never get handguns on K-12 school campuses, but college campuses are full of adults. If adults 18 and over who work and study on college campus were allowed to legally carry a firearm, perhaps shootings like Virginia Tech, if not prevented, could have been terminated earlier with much less loss of life.

There was a former military member who was a student at Virginia Tech the day of the shooting. He advised the press he had a legal firearm in his vehicle and could have possibly helped remedy the situation, but he was not allowed to have it on campus.

I taught high school in Mississippi and would have felt a lot safer if I could have had a handgun discreetly hidden on my person. However, like I said, it will never happen. National statistics reveal that K-12 schools are staffed by approximately 79% white, female, democratic voting teachers. Any attempt to arm the staff is not going to happen. Those demographics are not likely to defend themselves in their private / family life, so to expect them to take up arms to maintain the peace on a school campus is rather far-reaching.

Back in the early 1990s there were a rash of killings in Florida, where foreign tourists were victims of armed robberies and murders in the rest areas on the highways. Even with the sad loss of life the biggest concern was the $31 billion-a-year tourist industry in Florida. After massive law enforcement efforts were thrown at the problem, a young detective asked a suspect why they had gone after the foreign tourist. It was simple, the State of Florida had recently enacted a conceal carry law for is residents and the bad guys knew the foreigners did not carry handguns. If you are going to commit an up-close in the victim’s face crime, it is best to make sure that they are not armed.

On 18 May 1927 the worst school killing tragedy in this nation occurred in Bath, Michigan. Andrew Kehoe, a school board member, ignited multiple bombs at his home and at the school whose board he served on. He was allegedly unhappy with school tax laws that were forcing him to pay more money to the district. After the bombings a stenciled sign that Kehoe had made was found wired to a fence on his property and it read “Criminals are made, not born.” There is always evil in the world and the police and military cannot be there to protect you from everything. Take a stand, do it for your family: victims are made, not born.




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Copyright 2008 by Major Van Harl, USAF Ret. All rights reserved.

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