Constitutional Law

7th Circuit Strikes Illinois Concealed-Carry Ban, Gives State 180 Days to Revise Gun Law


Saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a right to bear arms for self-defense, which can be just as necessary outside the home as in one’s home, a divided three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in Chicago has struck down as unconstitutional an Illinois law that prohibits most citizens from carrying a concealed handgun in public.

In a 2-1 opinion (PDF) authored by Judge Richard A. Posner, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed two lower court decisions with instructions to declare the law unconstitutional on remand. However, it held that the state would have 180 days to revise its law before the mandate takes effect. (The appeals court majority also suggested, at one point in the opinion, that a law that permitted open-carry handgun possession might be a sufficient revision of state law, which it described as one of the most restrictive in the country.)

In a lengthy dissent, Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote that the question of what the U.S. Supreme Court has determined concerning the right to carry a concealed handgun is closer than the majority recognized, cited the danger of stray bullets and studies showing that carrying a gun is not necessarily associated with greater personal safety. She wrote that the court should have allowed the state of Illinois to make its own law on the subject.

A spokeswoman for state attorney general Lisa Madigan noted the 180-day grace period and said it “allows our office to review what legal steps can be taken and enables the legislature to consider whether it wants to take action,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Updated on Feb. 22 to include revised link to Dec. 11 opinion.

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