The unthinkable has happened. In Illinois, a state dominated by Chicago’s leftist anti-gun culture, there is going to be legal concealed carry. In fact, it is going to happen within the next 180 days. That was the deadline given to the Illinois Legislature by Judge Posner, who wrote the opinion for the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.
By stating that Illinois failed to meet its constitutional burden in the case, Posner handed Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan her worst personal courtroom defeat. In his Stevens Opinion, Posner wrote:
A blanket prohibition on carrying gun in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof it would. In contrast, when a state bans guns merely in particular places, such as public schools , a person can preserve an undiminished right of self-defense by not entering those places; since that’s a lesser burden, the state doesn’t need to prove so strong a need. Similarly, the state can prevail with less evidence when, as in Skoien, guns are forbidden to a class of persons who present a higher than average risk of misusing a gun. See also Ezell v. City of Chicago, supra, 651 F.3d at 708. And empirical evidence of a public safety concern can be dispensed with altogether when the ban is limited to obviously dangerous persons such as felons and the mentally ill. Heller v. District of Columbia, supra, 554 U.S. at 626. Illinois has lots of options for protecting its people from being shot without having to eliminate all possibility of armed self-defense in public.
In short, Illinois had to show that a substantial benefit to the people associated with disarming them in public. Madigan could not do that, there is no such substantial benefit, so she lost. Honest citizens, on the other hand, were the winners. “The debate is over,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “We won. And there will be a statewide carry law in 2013.”
That is the good news…
Here is the bad news. The Illinois Legislature can still keep Illinois residents from carrying and yet fulfill Judge Posner’s order to the letter.
There are two types of concealed carry laws: May Issue and Must Issue. A May Issue state gives the local sheriff or other governing body the power to refuse to give a qualified applicant a concealed carry license, generally for any reason they like. The State of Maryland is currently defending its May Issue law in federal court, since they refuse almost everyone. Must Issue states require the licensing body to give the license if the applicant meets the legal requirements. The law gives the licensing body no discretion in the matter. Michigan is a Must Issue state.
My prediction is that Illinois, under the heavy boots of Chicago democrats, will adopt a May Issue law under which Cook County, where Chicago is located, will still be able to keep law abiding people from carrying pistols for self-defense. So will other anti-gun counties, while people living in downstate counties will enjoy their new freedom.
This order will not stop the legal and political fights over guns and self-defense in Illinois, but it is a great start.