Yesterday, in a 2-1 decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons.
And so the last state in the nation without any such provision will be forced to create one within 180 days. Gun rights advocates cheered the decision while opponents downplayed it’s significance. So what have gun-rights supporters won? At the moment it is difficult to tell. Let’s review a few possible scenarios.
There is no question that pressure has been put on state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. In the immediate aftermath of the decision, all eyes will be on her to see how and if she will appeal the decision. Madigan has a several options.
She can a) request an en banc review by the full circuit, b) appeal to SCOTUS, or c) accept the decision and do nothing. There are groups that will advocate for each of these.
I’d say the most likely scenario at the moment is an en banc review.
It allows Madigan to buy some time and she can’t lose any more than she already has. I don’t know the makeup of the 7th Circuit so I’m not sure what her chances are of getting the decision overturned. But it sounds like the safest play.
If Madigan appeals to SCOTUS, even after an en banc review by the 7th circuit, she will open up the case to a whole bunch of outside influences. Don’t think for one second that Mayor Bloomberg‘s people in New York or Tony Villaragosa’s people in Los Angeles are ignoring this case. Because it could have powerful repercussions on their ability to curtail gun rights in the major cities of the U.S.
The gun-controller’s ramparts have been breached. While they have lost some ground, the big-city mayors may choose to accept this loss instead of gambling and losing even more. Remember, all concealed carry statutes are not the same.
New York and California are “may issue” states which retain the ability to restrict CCW permits for almost any reason. While these may-issue statutes are under assault in several cases currently working their way through the courts, a negative outcome at the SCOTUS may permanently knock down this last pillar of defense used by big-city law enforcement agencies to deny permits to law abiding citizens.
If Madigan chooses to do nothing, then the burden will shift to the Illinois state legislature to craft a statute that will pass constitutional muster. Gun-rights advocates in Illinois seem to be fairly confident that they can craft and pass a “shall-issue” statute similar to those in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida. Their last attempt at one came up just six votes short. If this happens it would be a huge win for the second amendment.
But don’t think for a second the 800 lb. gorilla that is Chicago will stand by idly and allow their policies of disarming law-abiding residents get blown away. Gun-control advocates will push for a “may issue” statute that gives Cook County a lot of leeway to restrict carry permits from being issued. On the flip side, in the past year there has been a mini-revolt brewing south of I-80 as several Illinois county sheriffs have made it clear that they will refuse to prosecute law-abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons.
Expect all sorts of political maneuvering before this issue is settled.