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Gun Ruling Could Mean Legalized Concealed Carry in Illinois ... and Beyond

To think, just a few months ago, many people couldn't even own a handgun in Chicago. Now, in a few months time, people may be able to carry that now-legal gun for personal protection ... in public!

Currently, in the United States, concealed carry laws fall into three categories: shall issue, may issue, and no issue. In the first category, we have states that issue concealed carry permits to anyone who qualifies, usually after a background check and safety course. The middle ground is currently being litigated in the Fourth Circuit, and includes states where a person desiring a permit has to show a good reason for needing to carry a loaded weapon.

In the final category, we had Illinois, who refused to issue permits to anyone, except a select few people, like police officers. Carrying a loaded weapon outside of the front door, even onto one’s own porch, was a crime.

Yesterday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that outright prohibition unconstitutional. Those opposed to unfettered firearm possession can breathe easy, however, as the court stayed the decision for 180 days to allow the state to craft regulations on concealed carry permits.

Previous Supreme Court decisions have held that the Second Amendment does guarantee a right to own a firearm for self defense, and that states must respect that right. However, the remaining question for the Seventh Circuit was whether that right extended outside of one’s home.

Judge Posner’s opinion on the matter was that, “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 … 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.”

It is important to note that this decision is almost certainly headed for appeal. Also note that the aforementioned Fourth Circuit case is also considering whether the right to bear arms extends outside of the home, and if so, whether the requirement of “good cause” for a permit is a constitutionally permissible limitation. The Second Circuit recently ruled that the Second Amendment only applies inside the home and that “good cause” restrictions were constitutional.

The resolution of the concealed carry battle is likely to come only after the Supreme Court has the opportunity to weigh in on the Second, Fourth, and Seventh Circuits’ decisions and settle the disagreement between the lower courts.

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