NRA Victory for Self-Defense and the Second Amendment: Federal Court Strikes Down Illinois Ban on Carrying Handguns In Public

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled today that Illinois’ total ban on carrying firearms for self-defense outside the home or business is unconstitutional. To review the Shepard v. Madigan Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision, click here. The NRA funded Shepard case involves lead plaintiff Mary Shepard, an Illinois resident and trained gun owner, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in both Utah and Florida. The National Rifle Association is funding this case. The Illinois State Rifle and Pistol Association is a co-plaintiff in this case. All of the court filings in this case can be viewed at http://michellawyers.com/shepard-v-madigan/.

A sister case, Moore v. Madigan, was also decided in the same opinion. That case was sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation.

On September 28, 2009, while working as the treasurer of her church, Ms. Shepard and an 83-year-old co-worker were viciously attacked and beaten by a six-foot-three-inch, 245 pound man with a violent past and a criminal record. Ms. Shepard and her co-worker were lucky to survive, as each of them suffered major injuries to the head, neck and upper body. Ms. Shepard’s injuries required extensive surgeries and she continues physical therapy to this day attempting to recover from her injuries.

In today’s decision, Judge Richard Posner ruled that Illinois’ ban on carriage is unconstitutional. The Judge went on to say, “One doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense in the eighteenth century could not rationally have been limited to the home. . . . Twenty-first century Illinois has no hostile Indians. But a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk than in his apartment on the 35th floor.”

The court also held:

We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home. The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense. Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment therefore compels us to reverse the decisions in the two cases before us and remand them to their respective district courts for the entry of declarations of unconstitutionality and permanent injunctions. Nevertheless we order our mandate stayed for 180 days to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public.

More news to come as the decision is further analyzed.

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