Illinois Gun Club Files Challenge To State's Open Carry Ban
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Illinois lawmakers reluctantly approved a “shall issue” concealed carry licensing law back in 2013, but the ability to openly carry a firearm is still banned under state law. Now that provision is being challenged by a gun club and one of its members in a lawsuit that argues the ban violates the Second Amendment rights of residents of the state.

Sinnissippi Rod and Gun Club and one of its members, Simon Eichelberger, are suing the state attorney general and the director of the state police in an attempt to get a judge to declare a portion of the law they enforce unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

Eichelberger, 50, of Sterling, is an NRA-certified firearms instructor, a state certified conceal carry license instructor and Sinnissippi’s second in command.

“At a time when municipal police have been militarized to the point of having machine guns and tanks, and when the national standing army approaches half a million in size, an armed citizenry is essential for maintaining the balance of power between the people and the government, and for preservation of the civic republicanism and liberties inherent in every citizen,” the club and Eichelberger state in the first paragraph of the suit.

The attorney representing the club and Eichelberger, Dmitry Feofanov, maintains that historically, the open carrying of firearms was the preferred means of carrying, and he’s correct in noting that, in several state constitutions, there’s a specific carveout for lawmakers to regulate the carrying of concealed firearms, but not openly carried guns.

The Supreme Court has yet to weigh on on any case dealing with the right to carry, and so far the various courts of appeals have differed greatly. In Illinois, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms outside of the home, though it didn’t specify whether that right extended to open or concealed carry, or both. The 9th Circuit, on the other hand, has ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect the right to carry a concealed firearm, but has yet to formally rule on a challenge to Hawaii’s ban on openly carried firearms.

It’ll be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately decide whether or not the right to keep and bear arms actually protects the right to bear arms. This particular challenge has been filed in Illinois state court, and the 7th Circuit’s decision in Moore v. Madigan is the controlling law in the state. Clearly some form of carrying must be allowed under that decision, but does the state have the power to ban the open carrying of firearms in the name of public safety?

This case has just been filed, so it will be weeks before the state of Illinois issues its reply, and months before a judge issues an opinion in the lawsuit. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on this case as it winds its way through the court system. One day in the not too distant future, we may see Illinois’ ban on openly carrying firearms consigned to the dustbin of history, joining the total ban on carrying guns thrown out by the courts in 2013.