Oak Park’s Solution to the Armed Robbery Spree: Whistles

About once a week I discuss the village of Oak Park, IL, which has a handgun ban that keeps law abiding people defenseless, while failing to stop criminals from having guns.  In the midst of an armed robbery spree that has lasted over a year, Oak Park officials are now suggesting that residents carry a whistle, and to blow it in the event that a crime occurs.  My thoughts on this program are below:

The Oak Park Whistle Idea

Oak Park, Police Chief Rick Tanksley wants residents to be armed with brass whistles. Tanksley said a whistle “scares the individual, they know their time is limited,” . . . “People would carry their whistles on their key chain or in their hands as they were walking down the street,” said the police chief. “[It’s] just another tool at someone’s disposal to get help in times of emergency.”

I’ve previously discussed how noisemakers are inadequate self defense tools for those in South Korea, and the same holds true for residents of Oak Park, IL.  To recap, self defense experts have stated that making noise is not the kind of self defense strategy upon which one should be their life.  This is because making noise with a whistle or other tool means that one is hoping that blowing the whistle will cause (1) a bystander to hear the whistle and recognize that it is a plea for help (rather than soccer practice or some other source of whistle noise), (2) promptly come to the aid of the victim, and (3) be capable of stopping the attacker.  Since many of Oak Park’s robbers are armed with handguns, while law abiding citizens are forbidden to own a handgun, even if a bystander were to rush to the victim’s aid, I doubt that unarmed bystander would be of that much help.

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Proponents of this whistle idea will also suggest that a criminal will run away upon hearing the whistle.  This seems quite unlikely.  Criminals know that even if someone were to hear the whistle, understand that it is a cry for help, and call the police, it would generally take at least minutes for a cop to appear.  That is more than enough time to complete a robbery, murder, kidnapping, etc.  A whistle, or even a dozen whistles, just doesn’t beat a gun.

It is also worth noting that fumbling for the whistle and then blowing it will take precious time, which could better be spent fighting back, or otherwise doing something more productive than having one’s hand(s) encumbered with a noise maker that is more suited for use by a soccer coach.

My Suggestions

First, ditch the whistle idea, for as discussed above, whistles are not a viable solution to the problem of armed and violent criminals.

Next, I would suggest repealing the handgun ban, as many of Chicago’s other suburbs have wisely done.  This would not only enable Oak Park’s law abiding residents to better defend themselves, but would also allow Oak Park to avoid a costly legal battle to keep the likely unconstitutional handgun ban.  The handgun ban isn’t working to stop criminals from having a gun, it never has worked, and it is time to throw in the towel.

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Finally, I would also suggest supporting the push for concealed carry in Illinois, which has already been endorsed by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.  This would allow law abiding citizens to carry a gun for self defense, instead of the current situation where only the criminals are armed.  Most states allow concealed carry, while only IL and WI do not, and it is time for IL to join the other 48 states that allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves.  For those who don’t believe that concealed carry would enable effective self defense, I would note that two people who were illegally carrying guns in Oak Park have successfully defended themselves against an armed robber and against a racist attacker in just the last year.  Armed self defense works, plain and simple.  More information about concealed carry can be seen here.