Last week, lawyers from the National Rifle Association presented their oral arguments in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Shepard v. Madigan.
The lead plaintiff in the case is church treasurer Mary Shepard. On Sept. 28, 2009, Ms. Shepard and her 83-year-old co-worker were brutally attacked and beaten by a six-foot-three-inch, 245 pound man with a criminal record and a history of violence.
Both women suffered major injuries to the head, neck and upper body (see video for details). Since the incident, Shepard has undergone extensive surgeries to repair the damage done by the attacker. And three years later, she is still in physical therapy.
Looking back, could what have happened that day been avoided? Maybe, maybe not. But all Ms. Shepard, who is a trained gun owner with a license to carry concealed in Florida and Utah, is asking for is a fighting chance. That’s really what her lawsuit is about.
But because she lives in the last remaining state that bans the carrying of firearms for self-defense outside the home she was (and is) unable to protect herself and her elderly co-worker. In short, she didn’t have a fighting chance.
“Illinois is the only state in the Union that flatly forbids law-abiding citizens from carrying operable firearms in public for self-defense,” said NRA counsel David Thompson in the opening brief before the court.
“Illinois attempts to defend this ban as a public safety measure, asserting that mayhem would ensue if law-abiding citizens were licensed to bear weapons in public,” Thompson continued. “The inconvenient truth that every other state in the nation allows some form of public carriage of firearms by at least some private, law-abiding citizens –and does so without fostering the mayhem forecast by the Defendants here– gives the lie to Illinois’s pleas that firearms in the hands of any and all law-abiding citizens are uniquely a threat to public safety in this state, even if nowhere else in America.”
Also weighing in was NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox in court, who said, “The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms and the right to self-defense.”
“The state of Illinois’ severe and irrational restriction on self-defense is an abettor in the terrible attack on Ms. Shepard and her co-worker,” he added. “Illinois is the only state to completely deny law-abiding residents the right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home, which is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
In addition to the NRA’s legal experts, the Illinois State Rifle Association is providing support for the case.
“She was fully qualified to carry a concealed firearm, but she couldn’t do it in Illinois,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “As far as we’re concerned, the Illinois Legislature is putting everyone in danger because they won’t allow concealed carry to go forward.”
Hopefully, this case fairs better than Moore v. Madigan, a Second Amendment Foundation case that also the challenged the Illinois state ban on concealed carry.
In that case, Federal District Judge Sue E. Meyerscough, an Obama administration appointee who formerly served on the Illinois State Appellate Court, dismissed the complaint, upholding the ban.
In her ruling back in February, Judge Meyerscough stated:
“This Court finds that the Illinois ‘Unlawful Use of Weapons’ and ‘Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon’ statutes do not violate Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights. The United States Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit have recognized only a Second Amendment core individual right to bear arms inside the home. Further, even if this Court recognized a Second Amendment right to bear arms outside of the home and an interference with that right, the statutes nonetheless survive constitutional scrutiny.”
The SAF filed an appeal to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We look forward to winning this important case on appeal even if it means going back to the United States Supreme Court for a third time,” SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb stated in a press release.
“The Second Amendment does not say, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except outside your home or that it only applies inside your house. We don’t check our constitutional rights at the front door.”
(Photo Credit: AP)