By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — Did you like playing hide and seek as a child? Then you are exactly the type of person Illinois police officers and lawmakers want to talk to when you call 911.
You see the politicians and the police say if someone breaks into your home, and 911 help is minutes away, your best bet is to hide.
“I’d say dial 911 as soon as possible, and hide,” said state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, D-Chicago, who an Illinois lawmakers and a Chicago police officer.
The question of whether people are on their own when they call 911 comes from the questions that conservative newsman turned hidden camera hero James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas pose in a new video.
O’Keefe’s team asked several New York-area police officers what to do if someone is breaking into their home and the police are delayed in responding.
One officer is heard telling a man to hide or buy a big dog. Another officer suggests applying for a gun permit, but conceded that could take months in New York.
Illinois is fighting over how it will allow people to legally carry a gun in the state.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ blanket ban on concealed carry late last year. Lawmakers have until June 9 to create a law, or gun owners will be able to carry almost any weapon they want almost anywhere they want without restriction.
Acevedo said he wants plenty of restrictions on who can carry a concealed weapon in the state. He said he doesn’t want anybody to have an assault weapon, and he’s sponsoring a statewide ban on those weapons.
But Acevedo is clear, that if someone breaks into your home and you have called 911, you can protect yourself.
“Whatever you need to do to protect your family, you need to do,” Acevedo said. “But that should be the ultimate decision.”
Outside of Chicago, where guns are more popular and prevalent, you would think police officers and lawmakers would talk tough about using a gun to defend yourself. But you’d be wrong.
Jack Campbell is the undersheriff in Sangamon County, home to the state Capitol in Springfield. Campbell said even in rural parts of his jurisdiction, his advice is sometime to hide.
“If you do not handle a weapon well — maybe they are elderly or it is their husband’s weapon — in that case we encourage them to hide in that house,” Campbell said as he pointed to a recent case where deputies received a 911 call from a woman hiding under her bed after someone broke into her home.
Campbell said police don’t want anyone to hurt themselves trying to use a weapon they are not qualified to handle. But if you are comfortable with a shotgun or a pistol, Campbell said the law is clear.
“You have the legal right to defend yourself by any means necessary,” he said.
That, however, does not include popping off shots into the backyard, said state Sen. Tim Bivins R-Dixon.
“We don’t recommend firing warning shots like the vice president (Joe Biden) recommended to his wife,” said Bivins, who is a former county sheriff.
Bivins admits people could “wait a long time” for 911, and said in those cases Biden’s advice is somewhat on the mark.
“He was on the right track. A shotgun is a great house gun, especially in the middle of the night if you wake up from a dead sleep,” he said.
But Bivins is quickto say that before anyone buys any guns, they need to be trained in how to use them.
Contact Benjamin Yount at [email protected]