Friday, December 14, 2012

New Illinois Concealed Carry Ruling May Face Big Obstacles

Although there’s been a breakthrough in the strict laws against concealed carry of firearms in Illinois 1,  there may be some dark clouds in an expansion of gun rights in oppressive Illinois.  There are several potential problems. The well publicized 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has left the door open to Illinois granting concealed carry permits to carry a concealed firearm just as is it is handled in New York state.

Although it’s a giant leap in Illinois gun rights, before anyone gets overly excited, the fact is that the Court left the door open in Illinois to restrictive Concealed permit laws that afflict New York. New York law requires an applicant for a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public to show a “proper cause” to obtain a license. 1

A New York applicant for a gun permit must demonstrate a need for self-defense greater than that of the general public such as being the target of personal threats. The Court believed that the New York law is less restrictive than  Illinois’s law current;y was.  And, the decision was made by a three Judge Appellate panel. The door is left open for an appeal to the full nine Judge Seventh Circuit Court. And, this could eventually wind its way to the United States Supreme Court.

 The problem faced by gun rights foes was that The state’s Attorney General failed to convince the Judges that the “safety” needs of that state’s residents were any greater than any of the other 50 states.  The Court decided that Illinois’s failure to justify the most restrictive gun law of any of the 50 states made the law unconstitutional. The judges also recognized the fact that people face the potential of greater harm from criminals outside of the home while on Illinois streets than in their homes. 1

A big question is that even if the ruling survives the appeal process, will a new state law make Illinois a "shall issue" state or an overly restrictive "may issue" state like New York is. The Court wouldn’t speculate on any limits that Illinois “may” impose in the interest of “public safety” on the carrying of guns in public. It was just enough for this Court to determine that the limits Illinois imposed went too far.

This Court understood that a person faces greater danger from potential criminal attack outside the home and on the state’s streets than in the home. The Court also was convinced that criminals knowing that many law-abiding citizens are walking the streets armed may make criminals timid. The Court referenced to the fact that in Chicago, most murders occur outside the home. And, there have been over 400 gun homicides on the streets of Chicago’s south and west sides so far this year.  

The Court didn’t buy into many of the usual anti gun rights arguments that “more guns” lead to more crime. The Judges believed that the data made available from both the pro and con sides in their briefs to them implied that concealed permit holders are at fairly low risk of misusing guns, consistent with the relatively low arrest rates observed to date for permit holders. The Appellate panel expects relatively little negative public safety impact if Courts invalidate laws that prohibit gun carrying outside the home, assuming that some sort of permit system for public carry of side arms is allowed to stand. And, “some sort” of permit system still leaves the door open to a potentially abusive and very restrictive carry permit scheme. The state has 180 days to formulate A "less restrictive" law than the one tossed out. 

Illinois' McLean County State’s Attorney, Ronald C. Dozier, took an earlier stand against enforcing certain Draconian Illinois gun laws. Announcing in his press release, with certain exceptions, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, “Will no longer enforce those parts of the following Illinois statutes relating to firearms:
Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (430 ILCS 65),
Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1),
Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6)
and provisions of any other statutes that appear to be in contravention of the Heller and McDonald decisions.”

Even as Illinois may be liberalizing gun rights, Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper said that gun control measures should be considered now in light of the Aurora and the Oregon mall shootings. However, highly publicized shootings such as these get the anti gun attention rather than on the failure of the strictest gun laws in America in Chicago with over 400 dead on the streets in Chicago, where the country’s strictest gun laws have been a failure.

Meanwhile, the number of concealed permits issued in Colorado has been soaring since their inception in 2004. There was an increase in permit applications there of 185% last year, the greatest increase since 2004. Also, last year there were 251,000 Colorado background checks for gun purchases made, and 245,000 checks were approved. 2.

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