Randolph, Clinton counties allowing concealed weapons, with limits

News-DemocratJune 11, 2013 

Randolph County has joined Madison County in allowing residents to carry concealed weapons, according to Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker.

And Clinton County Sheriff Mike Kreke says his deputies will not arrest anyone with permission to carry concealed weapons in his or her home jurisdiction.

The policy changes follow Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons' announcement last week that he won't prosecute anyone for carrying a concealed weapon in Madison County, as long as a few rules are followed. Gibbons' decision is based on a federal appeals court declaring Illinois' concealed-weapons ban unconstitutional.

Walker said the guidelines for the policy in Randolph County are similar to those in Madison County, and the practice has the support of Randolph County Sheriff Mike Hoelscher.

"I started talking to law enforcement back in May about this," Walker said. "I said then that I would give the state legislature until June 9 (a deadline set by federal courts to repeal the concealed weapons ban) and they ran past their deadline in my mind."

Those guidelines include residents having a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card, not prohibited otherwise from having a weapon, not committing a crime and notifying officers of their concealed weapon when stopped. Residents also cannot carry a weapon into the county courthouse, schools and churches.

Illinois State Police have said they will continue to arrest anyone carrying a concealed weapon, yet Walker said his office will not prosecute those arrests as long as the above criteria are met.

A federal appeals court previously ordered the state to repeal its ban on concealed weapons, the last such ban in the nation. The Illinois General Assembly recently passed legislation that would allow carrying weapons in public, but Gov. Pat Quinn has not said whether he will sign the legislation into law.

"It is a shame Chicago politicians are preventing a statewide resolution in this matter," Walker said in a statement. "If the governor decides to act on the legislation before him, I will revisit this issue, but for now I ask citizens to be responsible and use common sense in their carrying of concealed weapons."

Clinton County Sheriff Kreke said he agrees with the concealed-carry policy of Madison and Randolph counties but has not decided to push for a similar policy.

However, Kreke said his deputies will not arrest someone with a concealed weapon as long as their home jurisdiction, such as Madison and Randolph counties, allow the practice.

"We are not going as far as Madison County, but if they have permission from another jurisdiction, such as Madison County, we're going to honor that," Kreke said.

For Clinton County residents, they will be allowed to have a concealed weapon as long as they have a permit from another jurisdiction. For example, Kreke said some residents have permits from Florida or other states allowing them to carry concealed weapons.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly on Tueday said he's having discussions with law enforcement agencies in the county regarding the future of the legislation.

"I support concealed-carry and always have, because I think that's a logical interpretation of the Constitution," Kelly said. "As in any case, we'll continue to exercise prosecutorial discretion in a way that respects rights, public safety, and justice as this unfolds. I hope the bill is signed quickly."

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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