[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Tuesday invalidated a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois, ultimately deciding [opinion, PDF] that the law is unconstitutional. Relying on the US Supreme Court [official website] decision in District of Columbia v. Heller [opinion, PDF], Judge Richard Posner opined that the Second Amendment [text] “confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” and that Illinois failed to provide the court with “more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety.” Posner also relied on the absence of such a law in all 49 other states, reasoning that, if the Illinois ban were “demonstrably superior,” one may “expect at least one or two other states to have emulated it.” While the ruling is considered a major victory for gun rights advocates [AP report], the Seventh Circuit did stay its ruling. Specifically, the court will allow 180 days for “the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment … on the carrying of guns in public.”
Illinois lawmakers, particularly those in Chicago, have struggled to limit firearm possession and advance gun control [JURIST news archive] initiatives in the city without violating the Constitution. In June the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of the Chicago Firearms Ordinance [text, PDF] that prevents firearm purchase by individuals who have “been convicted by a court in any jurisdiction of … unlawful use of a weapon that is a firearm” because such a standard is unconstitutionally vague. The Ordinance was unanimously approved [JURIST report] by the Chicago City Council in July 2010, and imposes strict regulations on firearm possession. In particular, residents who possess firearms are required to keep them inside their homes, and are not permitted to take their guns into the yard, garage or porch of the home. The legislation was enacted four days after the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago [JURIST report] that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is applicable to the states as well as the federal government. The decision effectively struck down Chicago’s former handgun ban, as it prohibited citizens from keeping handguns in their homes under any circumstances.