Whether the Governor of Illinois decides to allow it or not, carriers of concealed weapons in two counties of the state will not face prosecution for hiding their guns, according to local prosecutors. Jeremy Walker, State Attorney for rural Randolph County, said he would not prosecute anyone charged with the possession of guns in public.
Until recently, Illinois was the only state in the nation that prohibited its citizens from carrying concealed weapons. The Illinois General Assembly recently voted to allow state residents to carry guns in public and Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, is weighing whether to sign it into law.
Walker is the second county prosecutor in Illinois to publicly state that he will not prosecute concealed carriers. He joins the State Attorney for Madison County in stepping out ahead of the Governor's decision.
A growing number of local officials across the nation are engaging in similar civil disobedience to protest calls for greater gun control. In January, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson of Georgia's Gilmer County wrote on Facebook that he has no “intention of following any orders of the federal government to perform any act which would be considered to be unlawful.” Nicholson was referring to any federal or state gun-control measure that curbed Second Amendment rights. A law-enforcement group based in Texas is campaigning among sheriffs nationwide to persuade them to join public opposition to gun control laws. The group aims to recruit at least 1,200 of the nation's 31,000 sheriffs.
Gov. Quinn has indicated strong opposition to the legislation, Senate Bill 2193, saying in a statement released by his office following its passage, “This legislation is wrong for Illinois. It was wrong yesterday in committee, it’s wrong today, and it’s wrong for the future of public safety in our state. ...I will not support this bill and I will work with members of the Illinois Senate to stop it in its tracks,” he said.
Under the previous Illinois law, the right to carry a concealed weapon was limited to police, security guards, hunters and members of target shooting clubs.
The legislation now awaiting Gov. Quinn's signature would ban the carrying of concealed guns in public spaces including schools and parks, as well as in bars where more than 50 percent of sales are from liquor. Permits to carry concealed weapons would be provided to people who pass a background check and have a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card.
With high rates of gun violence in roiling Chicago, Illinois has attracted much attention in the national gun control debate.