Head of Illinois NRA affiliate accidentally admits gun restrictions stop mass shootings

But his organization is still trying to repeal the concealed carry license law he credits.

Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson
Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson on Tuesday's Fox & Friends. CREDIT: Fox News screenshot.

The head of Illinois’ National Rifle Associate affiliate inadvertently admitted on Tuesday that gun restrictions have helped prevent mass shootings in his state.

Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, made the argument on Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning while trying to make the case that additional gun laws are not necessary in Illinois.

Gun rights advocates are unhappy that the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois, is cracking down on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Asked whether local officials are right that such a ban is necessary to deter mass shootings, Pearson responded that it would not help.


If people want to do a mass shooting, they are going to do a mass shooting,” he argued, ignoring the fact that mass shootings without guns are impossible.

Illinois is a little bit different than every other state because every gun owner in the state that has a FOIA card goes through a background check every night of the year,” he continued. “So if you have looked at the history of Illinois, we don’t have any of those or very few of those in our history. And so, we are much more tightly regulated than the other states anyway.”

Indeed, a 1968 Illinois law does require that residents obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card in order to legally possess or buy firearms or ammo.

Pearson is correct that the state has not seen a major mass shooting involving an semi-automatic weapon since the 2008 Northern Illinois University shooting. But his attribution of this lack of mass killings to the state’s relatively restrictive gun laws is a major shift from the usual line pushed by the National Rifle Association and other opponents of gun violence prevention.

Illinois State Rifle Association screenshot
Illinois State Rifle Association screenshot

In fact, a quick scan of his group’s website reveals that despite the apparent success of the state’s FOID requirements and background checks, the Illinois State Rifle Association is still pushing to repeal them. And the National Rifle Association’s “highest legislative priority” is a federal law that would force all 50 states to accept concealed carry permits from other states — even ones with virtually no limits to who can get them.