U.S. Supreme Court gives Madigan more time on concealed-carry appeal

News-DemocratMay 3, 2013 

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's request for more time to decide whether to file an appeal on a court order that requires the state to allow carrying firearms in public.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' concealed carry ban is unconstitutional. It gave lawmakers 180 days -- until June 9 -- to fix the problem.

Madigan was facing a May 23 deadline to file an appeal of the 7th Circuit's ruling. Madigan's office had said an extension would allow more time for her to review a possible appeal.

Madigan, a Democrat, now has until June 24 to decide whether to appeal.

Illinois legislators haven't been able to reach an agreement on what a concealed-carry law should look like.

Downstate lawmakers generally favor a "shall issue" law that would require the state to issue a concealed-carry permit to anyone who meets prescribed requirements. They say in states with more restrictive laws, only the wealthy and people with political connections have been able to get concealed-carry permits.

Chicago-area lawmakers generally favor a "may issue" law that would be more strict, and would give Chicago-area officials the authority to deny permits. One Chicago Democratic senator's proposal would require applicants to be of "good moral character" and have "proper reason" to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan granted Madigan's request.

The extension granted by Kagan does not stop the 180-day clock imposed by the 7th Circuit, meaning the legislature still has to come up with a concealed-carry law by June 9. That could change, however, if Madigan does decide to appeal.

Gun-rights supporters say if the legislature doesn't craft a concealed-carry law by the June 9 deadline, "constitutional carry" would take effect, allowing the carrying of guns in public with almost no restrictions.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, who is one of the primary sponsors of a concealed-carry bill that is supported by most downstate lawmakers, said Friday he remains hopeful his bill (House Bill 997) can win passage.

"I have great hopes of passing a concealed-carry bill that allows the people of Illinois to practice their constitutional Second Amendment rights by the end of this session," said Costello,D-Smithton.

When asked if he thinks Madigan should pursue an appeal, Costello said: "I personally believe it's time we join the rest of the country and give the citizens of Illinois their Second Amendment rights."

Illinois is the only state that doesn't allow carrying weapons in public.

Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer says the attorney general has not yet decided if she will appeal.

In a petition seeking the extension, Madigan's office stated that the appellate court ruling conflicted with several other rulings on guns.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

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