U.S. Appeals Court Rules Illinois Concealed – Carry Ban Unconstitutional

Mayor Rahm Emanuel with anti-gun advocate, Mike Pfleger; courtesy of TruthAboutGuns.com

A federal appeals court has struck down an Illinois ban on concealed-carry of loaded firearms in public, according to a story posted on WGN’s website. The court’s decision says that people both need to, and have the legal right to carry, firearms outside their homes and that the ban is unconstitutional.

Illinois is currently the only state in the U.S. not to allow concealed-carry of a loaded weapon. All other states allow it to some degree, with or without stipulations attached, and many states reciprocate with one another, meaning that certain states will honor concealed-carry permits from the states they have such agreements with.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment applies to state and local gun laws, effectively bringing down any attempt by any state to strongly restrict firearm ownership. In the decision, Justice Alito said that the right to self-defense is a fundamental of Americans’ vision of liberty. The issue at stake with the decision, and what the Supreme Court didn’t touch on at the time, is whether there are gun control laws that can be reconciled with the 2nd Amendment. That is the challenge that concealed-carry opponents, and proponents of strict gun control measures in Illinois, must now grapple with.

The state’s general assembly has six months to develop a gun law that follows the court’s ruling, but they want to develop one that both adheres to the 2nd Amendment and still has restrictions involved that help keep people safe. A spokesman for Mayor Emmanuel told the press that they are very disappointed by the court’s decision, but that they will work to find ways to follow the 2nd Amendment while still keeping the people of Chicago safe.

For a long time, Illinois has had a very strong gun control movement backed by Chicago’s powerful politicians, which is why the gun rights movement has had a lot of trouble there. At the time of the 2010 decision, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago expressed his disappointment in a decision that made Chicago’s handgun ban unenforceable, stating his belief that fewer guns on the streets led to more safety for the citizens, not less. Jane Byrne, mayor of Chicago in 1982, supported the current handgun ban, and her support helped to get it passed.

Bans on handguns have been successful in many Chicago suburbs as well, including Morton Grove, Evanston and Oak Park. Oak Park was soon targeted by the NRA regarding repeal of such laws.

Statistically speaking, states and municipalities with more stringent gun control tend to have a lower rate of deaths by firearm. It’s interesting to note that Illinois is in the bottom 50% of the country when it comes to such deaths. The looser those laws are, the higher the rate of firearms deaths.

Furthermore, it’s often assumed that mental illness and drug addiction play a significant role in gun violence. According to an analysis done by The Atlantic in 2011, there is very little, if any, correlation between gun violence and neurotic behavior, at least at the state level. However, there is a correlation between economic position and gun violence and, in 2008, states that went to McCain had a higher rate of gun violence than states that went to Obama. Republicans tend to be in favor of looser gun laws than Democrats.

Assault weapons bans are under attack by pro-gun rights groups as to whether they are constitutional. Any attempt to restrict the number of guns an individual can buy in a given period, even if it doesn’t restrict overall ownership (as in, there is no limit to the number of guns you can own, there’s just a limit on how many you can buy at one time), would likely come under the same fire, though such a law could hurt the straw buyers that many criminals get their guns from.

Requiring trigger locks and mandating safe storage are possible restrictions that would help citizens of Illinois stay safer in their homes, however those do nothing to address the dangers of concealed-carry outside the home and are not especially enforceable. If Illinois did put a trigger lock law in place, requiring anyone who carried a gun concealed to also have a trigger lock, they would essentially violate the court’s order, and thus, the 2nd Amendment.

So Illinois has a conundrum. Perhaps the legislature will come up with something creative that helps to address the issue from both sides.