SPRINGFIELD — A federal appeals court has struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying a concealed weapon.
On Tuesday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said state lawmakers have 180 days to write a new law that legalizes concealed carry.
“The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” said Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the court’s majority opinion. “The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense.”
Posner said the state failed to prove that its ban was justified by an increase in public safety.
The ruling was stayed for six months “to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public.”
The ruling overturned a lower court decision and said the ban was unconstitutional.
“There is no suggestion that some unique characteristic of criminal activity in Illinois justifies the state’s taking a different approach from the other 49 states,” Posner wrote. “If the Illinois approach were demonstrably superior, one would expect at least one or two other states to have emulated it.”
Illinois was the last state to forbid concealed carry, reaching that status when Wisconsin lifted its ban last year.
Reaction from state leaders has been slow in coming. Gov. Pat Quinn, who has favored strict gun control laws, had no immediate comment. Neither did Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office said it was reviewing the ruling and would comment later. Madigan said her office is studying whether to seek a rehearing, ask the full complement of 7th Circuit judges to rule or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Bureau County, Sheriff John Thompson, who has expressed his favor of a concealed carry law, said he had no opinion about the ruling yet.
“A great deal of detail has been left up to the legislature,” Thompson said Wednesday. “They can either support the theory or fight the theory.’
Thompson said it would be good if Illinois legislators emulated what the other states surrounding Illinois have done.
“It would be a good start to look at and then develop something appropriately responsible,” he said.
In an interview in August with the BCR, Thompson said he felt the only restrictions on where a permitted gun owner could not carry a gun would be somewhere alcohol could be consumed, such as a bar or major league sporting event. Otherwise, they should be allowed everywhere.
“Once somebody is trained to the standards that are established by the state, it doesn’t make any difference where they’re carrying,” he said.
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