Court overturns Illinois concealed carry ban

Illinois advocates for restoring gun rights warned politicians not to tamper with the Dec. 12 federal court decision to overturn the state’s ban on firearms outside the home.

The Illinois State Rifle Association is fully aware that some members of the general assembly will attempt to thwart the intent of the court’s ruling by introducing concealed carry bills that contain provisions so strict that few, if any, citizens would actually qualify for a permit, said Richard A. Pearson, the association’s executive director.

Both Illinois Gov. Patrick J. Quinn III and Chicago Mayor Rahn I. Emanual, Democrats and supporters of the now-overturned ban, said in issued statements that they are studying the decision and neither has plans to address the reversal.

Pearson said the ISRA is putting legislators on notice that attempts to undermine the court’s intentions could result in renewed litigation.

“I can understand the apprehension some feel about people carrying defensive firearms in public.  If they have heard some of the misinformation about concealed carry that I have heard, then that apprehension would come naturally,” he said.

“However, the truth of the matter is, studies consistently show that concealed carry has purely positive impacts on public safety,” he said.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for all law abiding citizens in Illinois and gun owners throughout the country,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president.

“The court recognized that the text and history of the Second Amendment guarantee individuals the right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense and other lawful purposes,” he said.

“In light of this ruling, Mary Shepard and the people of Illinois will finally be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” he said.

The case, Shepard v. Madigan, filed May 13, 2011 in the lead plaintiff was church treasurer Mary Shepard; joining her was the ISRA, the NRA’s state affiliate, said Christopher W. Cox, the director of the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Affairs.

Mary Shepard

Mary Shepard

Michael Moore, and others, supported by the Second Amendment Foundation, filed a similar case, Moore v. Madigan, which was combined with Shepard’s case in the ruling. “Madigan” is Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan.

Shepard is an Illinois resident and a trained gun owner with no criminal record, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in two other states, he said.

While working as the treasurer of her church, Shepard and an 83-year-old co-worker were attacked and beaten by a 6-foot, 3-inch, 245-pound man with a violent past and a criminal record, he said.

Shepard and her co-worker both suffered major injuries to the head, neck and upper body with the church treasurer undergoing extensive surgery and physical therapy, Cox said.

“Mary Shepard isn’t just a victim of the violent criminal who attacked her,” he said.

“She is also a victim of anti self-defense activists in the Illinois legislature who have consistently refused to recognize that good people have the right to protect themselves when they go about their everyday business,” he said.

“We’re pleased that the legislature has come closer this year than ever before to changing the law, but close isn’t good enough for Mary Shepard and the thousands of other Illinois residents who are prohibited by statute from defending themselves outside the home,” he said.

Judge Richard A. Posner, writing for 2 to 1 majority at the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, said the state had 180 days to write legislation to restore concealed carry rights to the people in the Land of Lincoln.

“We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home,” Posner said.“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,” he said.

“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” said the judge, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. “Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden.”

Posner said he had no choice because the Supreme Court in both the Heller and McDonald decisions clearly stated that Second Amendment protected the right to carry firearms and the right senior to any state’s rights to restrict it.

Alan M. Gottlieb, the founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, which supported with the ISRA Moore and his co-plaintiffs, said, “We are very happy with Judge Posner’s majority opinion.”

Gottlieb said, “This is a victory for Illinois citizens who have been long denied a right recognized in the other 49 states; to have the means necessary for self-defense outside the home.”

The SAF leader said he will wait to see how the Illinois politicians follow the court’s instructions.

“The ball is now in the Legislature’s court, and we eagerly wait to see how well they can live up to their responsibility,” he said.

“In the broader sense, this ruling affirms that the right to keep and bear arms, itself, extends beyond the boundary of one’s front door. This is a huge victory for the Second Amendment,” he said.

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