Want to hear a crazy catch-22 situation? Right now, in the wake of COVID-19 in Illinois, the governor issued an executive order which mandated that all citizens out in public must wear a face mask beginning on May 1.
By the state’s own law, a person who is armed cannot legally wear any kind of face covering –including masks. They would be breaking a law if they do.
Is the answer that people are required to wear a mask, but then they aren’t allowed to conceal carry their firearm, should they just leave it at home? No, that’s not the answer — considering that they have a right to carry their firearm when they leave the house if they have the proper concealed carry license.
Yet, Governor Jay Pritzker is essentially forcing people to break the law if they wear a mask and carry their gun with them.
It’s a class 4 felony if you wear a mask while carrying, so it’s a pretty serious charge. Violators can face one to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. With a felony conviction, it’s also going to make it illegal for that person to carry a gun in the future.
A police sheriff in the state said that it would only be an issue with face masks if the person was actually committing another crime while wearing one and carrying their weapon. But, keep in mind that one sheriff wasn’t speaking on behalf of all legal authorities in the state. Who knows what each individual police force is going to enforce?
In all the confusion, the Illinois State Police issued a statement that basically says the executive order on face masks was “not intended to negatively impact permit holders under the Illinois Concealed Carry Act.” Law enforcement will just use “appropriate judgement” in each situation if someone is actually breaking the law.
Luckily, the authorities seem to realize that this is an odd situation with a lot of gray areas, and they won’t really be arresting people at random for complying with the face mask order and being a responsible gun owner. At least, that’s the hope in Illinois…
It still seems that gun owners have a choice to make when they leave the house with a face mask on and their gun concealed at their hip. Hopefully, law enforcement will be training to recognize individuals exercising their constitutional rights while also adhering to today’s social distancing standards.