Barring another Rube Goldberg-esque procedural nightmare to complicate the process, it seems Illinois residents may -finally- have the ability to carry concealed firearms legally. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling yesterday that struck down the state's ban on carrying a weapon in public. The judges ruled the ban was unconstitutional, but simultaneously gave the state 180 days to put their own version of a law into place.
The Court's ruling told the story:
"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. 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," the judges ruled.
"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. 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.
"The Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment compelled the appeals court to rule the ban unconstitutional, the judges said. But the court gave 180 days 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 Second Amendment Foundation, as you can imagine, is celebrating yet another victory in the courts. Having already prevailed in the District of Columbia and the City of Chicago, the gun rights group is looking forward to seeing what the Illinois legislature comes up with.
"We are very happy with Judge Posner's majority opinion," says Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. "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.
"In the broader sense," he added, "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."
While the victory may be sweet today, no one is anticipating Illinois simply rolling over without some sort of legal wrangling. Today, despite the City of Chicago's hand gun ban having been overturned by the United States Supreme Court, it is still virtually impossible to meet the qualifications required by the city to receive a concealed carry permit.
With this win, however, Illinois anti-gun legislators have been served notice that their continued intransigence regarding the right to own- and carry -handguns may have backfired. Last year, anti-gun legislators thwarted attempts to institute a high-restrictive concealed carry law. With the Seventh Circuit's decision, that law would be virtually guaranteed to be a non-starter.
However, it may be that in 180 days, there will not be a single state without some sort of concealed carry provision.
It's about time.