Guns In The Workplace

Published September 3, 2003, in Chicago Sun-Times

For my work on this topic see this piece in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Allow guns in workplace, says candidate


SPRINGFIELD--Last week's massacre at Windy City Core Supply might have been prevented had the employees been allowed to carry concealed weapons, the latest declared Republican U.S. Senate candidate said Tuesday.

"Would Chicago have been averted? Possibly," said retired Air Force Maj. John Borling. "If somebody had been able to take a gun from out from under the counter and defend themselves, that might have made a big difference."

Borling favors a law allowing licensed gun owners to carry their weapons at restaurants, shopping malls and even the workplace.

Borling used the official kickoff of his Senate campaign Tuesday to also call for a program requiring nearly all men and women between 18 and 26 to serve for one year in the military--awakening a debate dormant for three decades since the draft ended.

Borling, 63, staked out the positions during a statewide flyaround to announce his bid to succeed retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in the March 16 GOP primary, a contest which so far has attracted 11 declared or potential Republican candidates.

His belief that Salvador Tapia, who orchestrated the bloodiest workplace rampage in city history, might have been stopped in his tracks with looser gun laws was ridiculed as out of touch with mainstream voters by one prominent gun control organization.

"In recent statewide elections, candidates who've supported these types of ideas have been defeated," said Thom Mannard, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence. "The results of previous elections speak for themselves, and I don't think this is going to help him."

How voters will react to Borling's stance on requiring young people to serve in the military--spelled out in detail at his Web site --is less clear. He proposes paying young people $60 a month for their service and allowing exemptions only for medical students and those who have physical or mental disabilities.

Borling said he favors sending more troops to Iraq and, if his proposed mandatory service were enacted, conscripts could be dispatched to that volatile destination or assigned to help the government at home on such things as fighting forest fires or patrolling airports.

"If we extol that military experience is valuable, why don't we let all our young men, young women ... get the benefits of that?" he said, referring to his concept as a "common crucible of citizenship."

At least one of his rivals in the Republican primary, Andy McKenna, criticized the idea.

"I think part of the success we enjoy today is because people choose to serve in the military. They're not there because they're required to be there," McKenna said.

Borling, a former fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, planned an elaborate event to announce his candidacy in Chicago, complete with a landing on Lake Michigan, but had to scrub it at the last minute Tuesday.

He kicked off his campaign in his backyard in Rockford, after flying in on a Grumman Goose seaplane that landed in the Rock River, adjacent to his property. Borling then planned to land in Lake Michigan off 12th Street Beach, come ashore in a Zodiac raft and give his second speech of the day.

The plane circled overhead but could not land because the lake was too choppy. Borling was in the cockpit, but another pilot was at the controls, a spokesman said.

Instead, Borling flew to Schaumburg Airport and boarded another plane to continue the rest of his flyaround, which ended in Springfield at an event attended only by a smattering of reporters.

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