Breaking news from the state dubbed "FOIDistan": A federal appeals court ruling struck down Illinois' long-standing concealed carry ban, meaning the state would have to allow ordinary citizens to carry, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In a 2-1 decision handed down Tuesday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state's concealed carry ban is unconstitutional.
The ruling, however, does not mean Illinois residents are immediately allowed to carry; judges have given lawmakers in Springfield 180 days to draft their own version of the law.
The judges stated:
"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 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."
After Wisconsin enacted a concealed carry law on June 24, 2011, Illinois became the only state to ban concealed carry. That could change over the next 180 days, but only time will tell. In the meantime, state legislators are mulling whether to appeal the decision, or to begin drafting concealed carry legislation — with certain restrictions in place, of course.
"If we need to change the law, let us at least craft a law that is very severely constrained and narrowly tailored so that we don't invite guns out of control on each of our city's streets," said Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago. "I don't want people out of control wandering the streets with guns that are out of control."
Natalie Bauer, a spokesperson with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, added Madigan will consider the ruling before deciding whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The court gave 180 days before its decision will be returned to the lower court to be implemented," Bauer said. "That time period allows our office to review what legal steps can be taken and enables the legislature to consider whether it wants to take action."
The move comes months after the county board in downstate Pike County ruled that county residents could carry concealed, an effort that was spearheaded by Guns & Ammo contributing editor and Pike County resident Dick Metcalf. The ordinance marked the first time since 1862 that county law directly contradicted state law, influencing other counties south of I-80 to take similar action.
In August, McLean County State's Attorney Ron Dozier publicly refused to prosecute anyone convicted of merely carrying a firearm, depending on the defendant's criminal history and related charges.
The battle isn't over yet; should the case go to the Supreme Court, Illinois residents will be forced to endure another inevitably long, drawn-out legal process, but in the meantime, they can relish the fact that the state is making headway in joining the 21st century.