Ignorance of the law is no excuse

Even if it’s a bullshit law, like Chicago/Illinois gun laws. A woman from Tennessee, who possess a valid concealed carry permit in Tennessee was arrested yesterday at the Sears Tower in Chicago for possession of a firearm.

Stephanie Warren, 56, of Memphis was waiting to see the Chicago skyline from the top of Chicago’s tallest attraction when she placed her bag on the belt of the security machine, police said.

Inside the purse was a loaded .38-caliber revolver, police said.

I feel bad for Ms. Warren; however I must preface the body of this entry with the fact that she should have been aware of Illinois and Chicago’s gun laws. Like the title says, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Now that I have that out of the way, let me get to the point.

“It didn’t dawn on her that our state did not have the same gun laws as hers did,” said police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

This bothers me. For some reason, the way I read this it came off as really smarmy and arrogant. I’m probably reading too much into it; but I can just hear the scorn in the police spokeswoman’s voice: “It didn’t dawn on her that our enlightened state did not have the same gun laws as her backwards hickstate” or something like that. Of course, that’s probably just my reading. I hope.

No visitors were in any danger, and there was no interruption for the dozens of tourists awaiting the elevator ride to the Skydeck, Bond said. Police recommended that Warren be charged with a felony for unlawful use of a weapon, she said.

This is what really bugs me, however. No one was in any danger, and in another article (I think in the Sun-Times) the police mention that the weapon was not brandished, in fact it never came out of her purse. So of course the only proper choice of action is to completely ruin this woman’s life by charging her with a felony. The police mouthpiece even went so far as to say that “We want people to know we take our gun laws seriously”. You could add “so instead of trying to control the gang violence, we’re going to ruin the life of a suburban housewife from Tennessee”.

It’s not all bad news; the prosecutor’s office declined to file felony charges, instead charging the woman with three misdemeanors. I’m glad that the DA has a bit of common sense and that Ms. Warren will not loose her ability to own firearms – but she shouldn’t have been charged with a crime to begin with.

Like I said, I understand that ignorance of the law is no excuse. At the same time, I really do feel like the Chicago police overreacted here. I suppose that if she had pulled the gun out of her purse and started waving the thing around than I would understand an arrest. Also, this reflects a personal frustration of mine. I live close enough to Chicago that it’s completely within reason for me to go visit on a day trip or a weekend excursion. However, thanks to Chicago’s idiotic gun laws, I can’t carry there. Incidents like this only strengthen my resolve to not patronize any of Chicago with my money or time.

I understand the economic impact of me not going to Chicago is insignificant, but if I can be expected to be arrested and threatened with felony charges merely for trying to provide for my safety in a city that has a serious crime problem, well I think I’ll go to Knoxville instead.

In fact, for my Hoosier readers if you’re thinking about a trip to an interesting city that honors your Indiana CCW, here’s a list of destinations where your permit is valid.

Denver, CO
Charlotte, NC
Atlanta, GA
Miami, FL
Orlando, FL
New Orleans, LA
Lexington, KY
Louisville, KY
Knoxville, TN

Link to Indiana Reciprocity map