Late last year, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an Illinois state ban on carrying concealed weapons. The Illinois state government was given 180 days to end the ban, sending the state legislature into a legislative session filled with arguments about gun control. Though the legislature did manage to pass a law allowing concealed carrying of handguns with a license, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has not yet signed the bill.
Now, with state law declared unconstitutional and new laws hung up in the governor's mansion, individual counties are beginning to make their own law. Though the Supreme Court has granted Illinois an extension for modifying its existing laws, county attorney's in several Illinois counties have now announced that current concealed carry laws will not be enforced.
Last week, Madison County State's Attorney Thomas Gibbons released an opinion on the matter, stating that citizens of the county can immediately begin carrying concealed firearms, with a few caveats.
"It serves no just purpose to continue to deny responsible, law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right to bear arms," said Gibbons. "Continuing to criminally charge citizens for conduct that is constitutionally protected and for which charges would, ultimately, be dismissed, would be unconscionable and a terrible waste ofjudicial resources. Therefore, we will no longer deny responsible citizens this important right."
Gun owners wishing to carry concealed weapons in Madison County must still possess an F.O.I.D. card or a valid permit from a state that performs background checks. They must also be carrying their firearm for self-defense only, must not be prohibited from carrying a firearm in another state, and must not be engaged in any criminal conduct. In addition, the firearm in question must be kept concealed from public view and law enforcement officers must be notified of the firearm when encountering a person carrying one in the course of their duties.
This week, another Illinois county has decided not to enforce current Illinois gun laws. According to the Associated Press, Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker on Tuesday made an announcement similar to Gibbons', saying that "it is time to act." Walker criticized the Illinois State Legislature for its hesitation on the issue, saying that it could have been resolved in January, when the legislative session began.
In all other Illinois counties, state gun laws still prohibit concealed weapons, though the legality of the practice is effectively now in a grey zone. Governor Quinn has less than one month to sign the current bill or get the legislature to pass a new bill, as the court's recent extension only gives the state until July 9 to comply.