On February 22, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion, which refused Illinois' request for a rehearing of Shepard v. Madigan before the entire court. The previous decision in the case, by a three-judge panel of the court, struck down Illinois' complete ban on carrying firearms outside one's home or business for self-defense. Today's decision lets stand the strong interpretation of the Second Amendment offered in Judge Richard Posner's December 11 opinion, and brings Illinois one step closer to the rest of the country in respecting the Right to Carry.
"Today's decision is a major victory for the Second Amendment and all the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who wish both to keep arms, and to bear arms," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "It is now clear that no state can deny law-abiding residents the right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home. We have been fighting this case for years and are prepared to keep fighting until the courts fully protect the entire Second Amendment."
Currently, Illinois legislators are working on a concealed carry law in hopes of bringing the state into line with the December ruling, which gave the state 180 days to enact a new law. If the state wants to pursue the matter further in the courts, it would have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Objecting to the refusal to rehear the case were four judges, led by Judge David F. Hamilton. In an opinion devoted mostly to policy arguments, rather than to legal analysis, Judge Hamilton laments that "In so many public settings, carrying and using firearms present lethal risks to innocent bystanders," a point he tries to illustrate by describing the incident in August 2012 in which two New York City police officers accidentally shot nine passers-by while firing at a murderer near the Empire State Building. No mention is made of the many states that have enacted Right-to-Carry laws with no ill effect. The opinion goes on to urge Illinois to enact the strictest possible law governing who should be allowed to exercise the Right to Carry, restricting the places where people may do so, and suggesting that the state can restrict both the type of firearms that can be carried, and the way in which they can be carried.
This case is just one of many in which NRA-ILA is aggressively pressing courts around the country to recognize and protect the Right to Carry. For more information on our legal activities, please sign up for our online Legal Update newsletter by going to www.nraila.org/legalupdate.