Zerg593, via Twitter, informed me that Illinois, the last individual state to completely prohibit non-state entites from legally carrying firearms, now has 180 days to craft legislation to allow non-state entities to legally carry firearms:
In a huge win for gun-rights groups, a federal appeals court in Chicago Tuesday tossed the state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons and gave Illinois’ Legislature 180 days to craft a law legalizing concealed carry.
“The debate is over. We won. And there will be a statewide carry law in 2013,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.
In a split opinion (see below), the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling in two cases downstate that upheld the state’s longstanding prohibition against carrying concealed weapons.
The court’s decision can be read here. This case further demonstrates the value of innovation as it was made possible by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), the organization that decided to use the court system to advance gun rights instead of relying on political lobbying. I think it also demonstrates the general swing of public opinion from supporting gun control to either opposing it or holding no strong feelings regarding it. Something people often fail to consider is the value of public opinion. Even though judges are supposed to ignore public opinion and rule on the letter of the law their rulings are generally crafted in manners that at least attempt to appeal to public opinion. Consider the ruling in McDonald v. Chicago where the Supreme Court rules that Chicago’s ban on handguns was illegal under United States law but didn’t rule out “reasonable” restrictions on gun rights. Although the decision granted gun rights activists what they wanted it didn’t ignore the desires of gun control advocates. Public opinion is swinging in the direction of expanding gun rights but hasn’t reached a point where most people are willing to oppose all restrictions on gun rights.
Even though I don’t want to denigrate this victory I feel the need to point out two caveats. First Illinois could still maintain a prohibition against legal carry by carefully crafting legislation. Making carry permits $10,000 would effectively ensure only the wealthy enjoy the right to legally carry a firearm in Illinois and a restriction against recognizing any other state’s carry permits could make this ruling irrelevant for everybody living outside Illinois. Only time will tell and any such restrictions can be challenge in court if they arrise. Second the defense has 180 days to appeal the decision, which would take the case to the Supreme Court. This victory hasn’t been finalized yet but it’s certainly a move in the right direction and overall I believe it’s extremely positive. Illinois has been one of the most entrenched holdouts in the fight for gun rights and a hole has just been made in their armor. The trick will be turning that small hole into a massive one, which I believe will inevitably happen in time.