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Illinois high court invalidates gun law

The Illinois Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday invalidated [opinion, PDF] provisions of the state's "aggravated weapon use" law as facially violative of the Second Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] right to keep and bear arms. In 2008 Chicago police arrested a man for allegedly brandishing a firearm during an altercation with the police. A Cook County court found the defendant guilty of carrying an "uncased, loaded and immediately accessible" handgun and sentenced him to 24 months probation. However, in 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] found that the law imposed a "flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home" in violation of the Second Amendment and US Supreme Court precedent. The state high court agreed with Seventh Circuit's reasoning, finding that the Second Amendment confers a limited right to legally bear arms in places "beyond the home." According to media sources, the decision mandates [Chicago Tribune report] that state prosecutors drop "aggravated weapon use" charges pending against a small number of people accused with the crime.

The Illinois Supreme Court's decision is the latest development in the national gun control debate. In November the Missouri Senate fell one vote short of overriding a veto [JURIST report] by Governor Jay Nixon and passing into law a bill implementing a controversial gun measure. Earlier in September the Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously upheld Mississippi's House Bill 2, which stipulates that gun owners do not need a special permit to carry a gun in a holster or carrying case, so long as it is at least partially visible. In August Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a gun safety bill into law [JURIST report] requiring background checks for all gun purchases in the state as well as the reporting of all lost and stolen guns. In May several groups filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new Connecticut gun control law expanding the definition of "assault weapons," which are banned under existing state law. Earlier that month US Attorney General Eric Holder warned [JURIST report] Kansas that a recently enacted law intended to block enforcement of federal gun regulations was unconstitutional. In March a Kansas legislative committee approved a bill that would allow the open carry [JURIST report] and transport of firearms around the state.

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