The State of Illinois has a program called FOID – Firearm Owner Identification, which is required for any resident of the state who wants to own firearms or ammunition. This is a simple application process that checks the background and confirms that the applicant can legally purchase a firearm and ammo.

Somehow, Gary Martin was able to obtain a FOID, even though he had a felony conviction which clearly should have made this impossible, and purchased a handgun. It wasn’t until he continued the process and applied for an Illinois Conceal & Carry permit that the mistake was discovered. A letter was sent stating that Gary Martin was to surrender his FOID and his handgun immediately. Five years later he committed a heinous act, killing five of his co-workers with the very handgun that was supposed to have been surrendered due to his criminal background. The system and laws are in place, they just failed. Whose fault is that? Not the law abiding gun owners who haven’t done anything wrong.

When new rules and restrictions are discussed, both sides get heated. When new laws and restrictions are the result of emotions and not facts society is the loser, regardless of the topic. It is so easy in this day and age of instant electronic information transmission, to spread fear and lies and panic to achieve an end result that may only make things worse. We have all seen it first-hand.

Some politicians in North Carolina are trying to push through rules that don’t make a lot of sense, but they look good in print. The phrase “assault rifle” is so overused and abused that no one really knows what it means anymore. The poor AR-15, which due to a set of initials that actually mean ArmaLite (the original designer of this semi-automatic format) is also cast in a dark and scary light. This firearm is no different than a Ruger 10/22 rifle or Ruger Mini-14. One pull of the trigger, one bullet is fired, regardless of the color of the gun, the action is the same. Does a flashlight, adjustable stock or rail system change the function of the gun? Nope. Does a high tech radio in your car make it run faster? Of course not. Blaming objects to appease the Gods of fear is a completely emotional tactic, not factual.

Before making new laws, we need to take a step back, draw a chart of pros and cons and seek the real truth, not the media push. Laws are very hard to get off the books, once they are tucked in with ink.

Instead of beating the drums of more restrictions and less freedoms, why don’t we just make sure the laws and rules that are in place are enforced. What if that had been done in Illinois?

Remember knowledge is power and emotions are wonderful but sometimes we need to be a little more like “Spock” and base decisions on the facts first.


Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.