Illinois the last state in the union without some form of concealed carry law on the books, and outspoken U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh says he is going to change that.
At a Tea Party gun forum in Huntley, Ill. Tuesday night, Walsh (R-Ill.) said Illinois was an "embarrassment" for failing to have a concealed carry law on the books, and vowed to become a “cheerleader” for gun rights in Congress, the Daily Herald reports.
“The most important amendment in that Bill of Rights is the Second Amendment,” Walsh said, according to the Daily Herald. “It protects every other amendment. It is the last line of defense between us and our government.”
After months of heated debate, the Illinois House voted against a concealed carry measure in May. Since then, several lawmakers have said they are close to getting the support needed to pass such a measure, but Democrat Governor Pat Quinn has vowed to veto it if they do.
"The concept of concealed, loaded hand guns in the possession of private citizens does not enhance public safety, on the contrary it increases danger for everyday people as they go about their lives," Quinn said in May. "I don't think we're in the business of trying to increase danger to the people of Illinois. We want to work with our law enforcement and prevent bad things from happening. I think the passage of this law by the General Assembly would be most unwise and they should know where they governor stands and where the people stand."
There is bipartisan support in the state for a concealed carry measure, but most Chicago-area lawmakers are opposed to it. The Huntley event brought people on both sides of the issue to the table. Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, attended the event, along with Bill and Jennifer Jenkins from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Walsh, however, was the star of the show, the Daily Herald reports:
With 14th Congressional District incumbent Randy Hultgren looking on from the audience most of the night, Walsh delivered a series of audience-charging statements that lead to roaring applause. At least one audience member said, “Man, I love this guy.”
Hultgren, also a Republican, will face off against Walsh in the 2012 primary. Hultgren is a conservative Republican, but Walsh has already made it clear that he is running as a "tea party conservative first, and a Republican second."
"The media doesn’t understand this movement," Walsh said to the crowd, according to the McHenry County blog. "My Republican Party doesn’t understand this movement ... maybe that’s a good thing."
At the end of the event, Walsh reportedly said he believes one or two actions by President Obama will be investigated by a special prosecutor. He mentioned U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's alleged knowledge of the ATF's 'Fast And Furious' Operation, which allegedly placed weapons purchased by American taxpayers into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and the $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009 for Solyndra Inc., the California solar company that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in earlier this month.