advocates claim that Illinois is violating the Second
Amendment by prohibiting residents from being able to, in some
fashion, carry a firearm in public. A hearing on one such
case -- in which Michael Moore, of Champaign, and the Second
Amendment Foundation Inc., a gun-rights advocacy group, are suing
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office and the state of
Illinois -- was scheduled for Thursday in the U.S. District Court in
Recent events around the nation could give gun-rights advocates
the momentum they need to win a fight that has time and again seen
them on the losing side.
Wisconsin passed a concealed-carry law earlier this year, leaving
Illinois as the only state that prohibits nearly everyone from
carrying a firearm, concealed or not, anywhere that is not their
property or another person's property where they have permission
Madigan's office argues in court filings that the state is
following constitutional law, because a person isn't outlawed from
owning a firearm, just limited in the manner he can wield it.
A nearly identical
lawsuit with nearly identical arguments is unfolding in a U.S.
District Court in southern Illinois. The Illinois State Rifle
Association, or ISRA, a group dedicated to furthering firearm rights
and affiliated with the National Rifle Association, or NRA, is
backing both cases but is a plaintiff only in the southern Illinois
ISRA is joined by Mary Shepard as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit
against Madigan and the state of Illinois.
"We have a very strong case," said Todd Vandermyde, an NRA
lobbyist. "When you look at some of the briefs that have been filed
by the state and attorney general and some of the arguments they are
trying to make, I think it is clear they are very, very nervous."
Vandermyde specifically pointed to an argument made by Madigan's
office that since the state doesn't outlaw openly carrying a loaded
gun outside of cities, towns and other incorporated parts of
counties, there is not full-scale prohibition.
"The laws being challenged here are reasonable measures to ensure
public safety and do not violate the constitution," said Maura
Possley, a spokeswoman for Madigan.
Possley declined to comment further because the cases are
[to top of second column]
A recent court decision indicates how gun bans are being found to
be unconstitutional. One such case happened in Chicago, where the
U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's handgun ban in a ruling
that recognized a person's right to have a handgun that can be used
for self-defense in the home.
In response, the Chicago City Council required people to be
trained at a shooting range if they wanted to own a handgun. Then
the council made shooting ranges illegal in city limits.
Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner, of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Chicago, said the court overturned the city's regulations
because the court equated it to "a thumbing of the municipal nose at
the Supreme Court."
Those two decisions followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that
ended the gun ban in Washington, D.C., in 2008.
Nearly every year in recent history, some lawmakers in the
General Assembly take up the case of repealing the concealed-carry
ban, only to see it die for lack of support.
This spring, a concealed-carry proposal garnered a vote of 65-52
in the Illinois House. The measure didn't pass, however, because of
a technicality that required it to get a "supermajority," or 71
votes, in the House to pass.
Statehouse News; By ANDREW THOMASON]