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redeyechicago.com

Minority of One blog

Concealed-carry in Illinois, at last

Steve Chapman

1:39 PM CST, December 11, 2012

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Illinois is the only state in the country that does not make some provision for ordinary citizens to carry concealed firearms. But not for long. Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the state ban is unconstitutional because it violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

It's a surprising decision, and it may not survive Supreme Court scrutiny. But it has forced state legislators, who have 180 days to draft a new conceal-carry law, to take the idea seriously -- something they have stubbornly refused to do.

There is a strong anti-gun culture in Illinois, particularly in Chicago -- whose total ban on handgun ownership was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark Second Amendment case. Our lawmakers have refused to confront the evidence from other states that allowing law-abiding citizens to get licenses to carry handguns does not lead to more murders or more crime. What the laws do is give people who feel the need for such protection to have it.

This court decision stands a good chance of being struck down. In concluding that the right to carry outside the home is constitutionally guaranteed, it goes much further than the Supreme Court has been willing to go.

In fact, in overturning a Washington, D.C. handgun ban, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority that the Second Amendment does not uphold "a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues." Dissenting Judge Ann Claire Williams makes a plausible case that carrying loaded weapons outside the home is not covered.

But for now, the General Assembly has the task assigned by the court to "craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment . . . on the carrying of guns in public." A lot of responsible gun owners never thought they'd see the day.