May 28, 2023
Crossing the Illinois Border on I-57, Mississippi River bridge.

On the way to the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, there was time to consider the changes since this correspondent had last been here in 2014; much pavement has passed under my vehicle’s tires. Nine years ago: Illinois had shall issue. Carry by out-of-state permit holders or people from Constitutional Carry states is permitted as you pass through Illinois.  Fortunately, all the states passed through from Dallas, Texas, to Indianapolis, Indiana, have become Constitutional Carry states. Except for Illinois.

The rules in Illinois become complicated if you step outside of your vehicle. My solution was not to stop while in Illinois. That meant no gas or food or lodging, or potty breaks while in the State of Illinois. This takes some preparation and thought.

Across the state on Interstate 57 and Interstate 70 was about 230 miles, according to my odometer. 11 miles before the border, in Missouri, on I-57, is a wonderful place called Boomland. Boomland specializes in things which cost less in the free states. Gasoline is about 40 cents a gallon less expensive than across the border in Illinois.

Boomland, 11 miles from the Illinois border on I-57

Cigarettes are much less expensive. The limit was five cartons per customer. Business was brisk. Fireworks were plentiful and available at what seems a perpetual promotion at such border equivalents of “tariff free” shops: buy one, get one free! The business was booming! The restroom was clean, spacious, and not crowded, even with the lines waiting to purchase gas at one of the numerous pumps.

The strategy in the jurisdictions which are not friendly environments for Second Amendment supporters is to pick your battles. This correspondent advises when traveling, to follow the speed limits and traffic laws scrupulously. Within the first 80 miles of Illinois freeway, seven Illinois traffic enforcers were noted. Traffic fines can be a considerable source of income for a state which has to support a bloated, inefficient city such as Chicago.  Traffic fines double in work zones.  The Interstate in Illinois had many miles of construction going on. Even on the Interstate, the trip took about 4 and a half hours, with no stops.  This correspondent was glad he had topped off at Boomland, had an early lunch, and used the facilities.

Southern Illinois is classic gun country, with lots of farmland, woodlots, streams and ponds with wonderful game habitat and opportunities. Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters in southern Illinois are dominated by Chicago politicians. Fortunately, the Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit have restored some Second Amendment rights in Illinois with the decision of Heller, McDonald, and Ezell. Several cases are pending in Illinois with the new ban on semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines. With the exceptionally clear and well worded Bruen decision by the Supreme Court,  more cases are pending. It is likely Illinois (mostly Chicago politicians) will be, reluctantly, brought to heal again.

It was a wonderful feeling to cross the border into the free state of Indiana! Traffic was terrible on I-465 into Indianapolis, with about ten miles of stop-and-go on the Interstate under construction. Reports from the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis will follow.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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