This editorial is being published together with Lee Enterprises' Illinois newspapers.
Americans love their firearms. In 2020 more than ever.
We can’t emphasize enough the need for gun safety awareness as ownership grows.
No federal database tracks firearms sales. Nevertheless, 2020 clearly will post a record for sales in the United States, with estimates ranging from 17.5 million to 28 million. The National Shooting Sports Foundation says nearly 5 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time in 2020.
Background checks are seen as an indicator of overall gun purchases, and there have been 6 million gun background checks done in Illinois just this year. That’s the most of any state by a considerable amount, and an Illinois record.
That’s also a reason for one problem at the state level — a shortage of employees causing delays in processing Firearm Owner Identification cards. FOID cards are needed for legally purchasing and possessing a gun. By law, the process should take 30 days, but that waiting time has quadrupled.
That problem isn’t new, however. Last year, well before COVID-19 and the state’s present spike in sales, processing FOIDs was already at a snail’s pace.
So, while the state of Illinois needs to step up and correct that issue, it’s incumbent on gun owners, both old and new, to be fully aware of the caution and safety needed when dealing with firearms. We’re glad to report caution and safety seem to be a priority given the record number of gun safe sales being reported. In addition, enrollments in training courses and concealed carry courses have increased.
But with children at home more amid the pandemic, even more caution is needed.
Take the classes and understand what needs to be done to ensure safety with a gun in the home. That goes for long-time and new owners.
As you exercise the right to own a gun, remember to exercise your responsibility as well.