On Tuesday, in what was a major victory for gun owners in the Land of Lincoln, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the state’s current ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional.
Moving forward, the state Legislature has 180 days to pen a law that will legalize concealed carry for all law-abiding citizens.
NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde succinctly put things in perspective, “The debate is over. We won. And there will be a statewide carry law in 2013.”
The case that brought down the longstanding prohibition on CCW involved 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.
Shepard, a trained gun owner with a license to carry concealed in Florida and Utah, argued that if she had been able to carry, she would have had, at the very least, a fighting chance against her attacker (for more on her story, click here).
In a 2-1 decision, the court affirmed that the Second Amendment gives one the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense outside the home.
“One doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense in the eighteenth century could not rationally have been limited to the home,” Judge Richard Posner said in his ruling.
“Twenty-first century Illinois has no hostile Indians. But a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk than in his apartment on the 35th floor,” he continued.
Naturally, gun rights activists across the state are thrilled with the ruling.
“We’re extremely pleased with the ruling,” Illinois State Rifle Association leader Richard Pearson told Fox News.
“Now that the court has ruled … we will work as soon as possible with legislators to craft a concealed-carry bill for the state of Illinois.”
The man most likely to spearhead efforts to get a new CCW law on paper is Rep. Brandon Phelps, whose 2011 CCW bill came within several votes of passing.
“Christmas came early for law-abiding gun owners,” Phelps told Fox News.
“I said on the floor, `A lot of people who voted against this, one of these days, you’re going to wish you did, because of all the limitations and the safety precautions we put in this bill, because one of these days, the court’s going to rule and you’re not going to like the ruling.’ Today’s the day. The court’s pretty much said there’s no restrictions,” he said.
Though, before gun owners start popping bottles in celebration, there is the very real possibility that Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who represented the state and fought to uphold the ban, will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The court gave 180 days before its decision will be returned to the lower court to be implemented. 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,” Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley told the Chicago Sun-Times.
In all probability, given that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is staunchly pro-gun control, as is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, there’s a good chance that the battle will continue.
As Chris W. Cox noted, “This is a step in the right direction for all gun owners. We know it probably won’t be the end of this case, and we’re ready to keep fighting until the courts fully protect the entire Second Amendment.”
That said, given this latest ruling and the fact that 49 other states have legalized some form of concealed carry, Illinois gun owners gotta love their chances to come out on top – once and for all.