Court Rules Illinois Gun Ban In Forest Unconstitutional

techbro347 / Pixabay

The idea of a gun ban anywhere in Illinois isn’t overly shocking. While most of the state leans pro-gun, geographically speaking, the city of Chicago dominates the state politically. As such, I’m never surprised to see a bit of anti-Second Amendment nonsense come out of the state.

Sure, they’re better than New Jersey, but that’s a low bar to clear.

Yet the idea of banning firearms in a forest? That’s precisely what happened. Luckily, the ban was challenged and it didn’t go well for the gun banners.

A state law that bans the concealed carry of firearms in the Cook County Forest Preserve District is unconstitutionally broad, according to a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow issued a ruling Monday that found a section of the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act violates the Second Amendment by forbidding people with concealed carry licenses, or CCLs, from carrying guns anywhere in the 70,000-acre forest preserve.

But Dow’s ruling does not permit CCL holders to immediately start bringing guns into the Chicago Botanic Garden and Brookfield Zoo. That’s because the judge stayed enforcement of his order for six months to give state lawmakers time to amend the law to make it constitutional.

Simon Solomon, 63, of Skokie, filed suit against state and county officials after he was arrested while fishing at the Skokie Lagoons in April 2015, about five weeks after state police issued him a CCL, court records show.

Attorneys for Solomon, the state attorney general’s office and the forest preserve district all filed motions for summary judgment, asking Dow to find in their favor without the need for a trial.

Ilia Usharovich, Solomon’s Wheeling-based lead attorney, argued in support of his motion that state and county officials failed to come close to meeting the constitutional standards established by federal appellate courts.

He said even the dissenting justices in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark “District of Columbia v. Heller” opinion, which found the Second Amendment includes the right to self-defense while also permitting laws forbidding firearms from “sensitive places” like government buildings, would toss out the Cook County ordinance.

Honestly, the lawyer is probably right. I doubt anyone would argue that a forest is a “sensitive area.” A military base, courthouse, legislative building, all of those could be argued to be sensitive enough to warrant excluding guns, but not a forest.

Yes, even a public one.

This shouldn’t even have been a thing. There’s no reason for such a ban to exist in the first place, and I’m glad to see the judge toss the rule. Staying the order for a few months to give the legislature time to do the right thing is less thrilling, to be honest. I expect a lot of debate over how to get around the judge’s ruling, rather than people pulling their collective craniums from their also collective posteriors.

In the end, though, I don’t think there’s too much more they can do other than comply with the judge’s ruling.

Of course, again, why wouldn’t they want to? Again, it’s a forest.

Then again, it’s also Illinois.