March 15, 2007

Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day 2007

What a whirlwind two days. My friend J-man and I went to Springfield for the Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD). It didnít go quite as planned, but I still feel that something was accomplished, and I honestly feel like I did something good. I would like to thank the Illinois State Rifle Association for sponsoring the event, I think they did a fabulous job and what problems there were really could not be laid at their feet.

To be honest there where only a couple of real problems in my handbook. Since I drove down to Springfield, and didnít take one of the buses, I had to find a place to park. Apparently there is a severe shortage of public parking places in Springfield. I drove around for 30 minutes trying to find anything. Most of the metered spots were only for 30 minutes to 2 hours and when I did find a 5-hour spot the damn meter was broken. I ended up parking in an abandoned lot with a bunch of other vehicles. Technically I think I was parked illegally, but I didnít get a ticket so I donít care.

When we arrived at the Howlett building, there was a line waiting to get in. No problem, most government buildings have strict security. A gentleman in a suit, whom unfortunately I missed his name, came out and advised that the reason for the hold up was that the room was packed. They had a much larger then expected crowd turn out. I believe he said it was almost three times as many people then they anticipated. Which was cool, itís good to see that there are enough citizens that are concerned with this issue. I didnít mind waiting, as I felt this was a good cause and I was glad so many people showed up.

When we finally got into the auditorium for our session, I was a little disappointed. First the PA system in the building worked horribly. All it seemed to do was take the words the speaker was making them into a slightly louder garbled mess. Since I already have some hearing problems, I missed about 75% of what was said. J-man said he missed over half. We were given a packet of information and some directions on what they wanted us to do (Which we couldnít hear). Both J-man and myself were hoping that in this session there were going to be people talking about and explaining in more detail the various laws they want us to oppose or support. Iíve read their material, but both of us really wanted a more in-depth explanation behind these bills. I think the ISRA missed out on an opportunity to educate here.

The Howlett building, the Capitol and the Stratton building (Where a lot of the representativeís offices and meeting rooms are) are all connected by tunnels. They told us that we want to use the tunnels so we donít have the hassle of having to go through metal detectors and security check points each time. That sounded greatÖ at first. The problem was that with as many people that showed up, plus the normal staff, other visitors and what ever other people where there, it was hot and stuffy. To make matters worse, it was unseasonable warm, a nice 75 degrees and I overheard one of the staff members saying that there was a problem with the ventilation system, and it wasnít working. That made it at least 95 degrees in that building. Everyone was sweating like a dog. Towards the end of the day we ran into another friend of mine Giles and a friend of his. We all decided to go to the same committee to let our presence be known. Giles and his friends are smokers, so they wanted to walk outside to the Stratton building instead of taking the tunnels. At first I was just going to meet them there, because I didnít want to deal with security. Iím glad I changed my mind. It was so much cooler and nicer outside. It was a much-needed break from the stagnant heat.

I never was able to see my Representative or Senator, they where in committee meetings the whole time, or avoiding the crowd. We did leaving calling cards as to why we were there. When we showed up to most of the committee meetings, they where packed with people, most of the time it was standing room only. Everywhere you turned in any building you would see someone wearing an IGOLD button or shirt showing his or her support for the Second Amendment. There was no mistaking the presence of the pro-firearm lobbyists on Wednesday.

Now we just wait and see if we had the impact we were hoping for.

Posted by Contagion in Politics at March 15, 2007 03:46 PM | TrackBack