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State

Bid to speed Ill. concealed carry tossed

ST. LOUIS – Gun-rights advocates who failed to sway a federal judge into letting Illinois residents immediately tote firearms in public under the state’s new concealed-carry law announced Monday they’re asking an appeals court to intervene.

The notice of appeal to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association came three days after U.S. District Judge William Stiehl tossed out their lawsuit, siding with the state in ruling it is moot.

The Illinois Legislature passed the last-in-the-nation concealed carry law July 9 against Gov. Pat Quinn’s vehement objections. It gives Illinois State Police 180 days to set up a program before accepting applications, plus an additional 90 days to process the forms.

Shepard, in court filings Stiehl weighed, called such a delay unreasonable and insisted it “constitutes an unacceptable perpetuation of the defendants’ infringement of the Second Amendment rights.” While noting she wasn’t challenging elements of the new permitting process, Shepard said her issue was over “the complete ban on carrying firearms that continues to exist until the permitting process is up and running.”

In a 10-page ruling last Friday, Stiehl agreed with the position of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office: Challenging the legality of the span state police have to set up the program would require Shepard and the state rifle group to file a new complaint spelling out why such a wait is onerous or illegal.

Madigan’s office said Monday only that it is “pleased with (Stiehl’s) decision, which supports our argument that any new claim must be raised in a separate complaint before the court.”

It was not immediately clear how soon the 7th Circuit might hear arguments about Stiehl’s ruling or decide the matter.

An attorney for Shepard, William Howard, offered no immediate comment in an emailed reply to The Associated Press, other than pointing out the notice of appeal had been filed. A message seeking comment also was left with Todd Vandemyde, a National Rifle Association lobbyist in Illinois.

In passing the concealed carry measure, lawmakers narrowly beat a deadline set by the 7th Circuit, which last December ruled the state’s ban on public possession of handguns unconstitutional.

Madigan’s office had argued that Shepard’s lawsuit, which first helped bring about the 7th Circuit’s decision, challenged the state’s blanket prohibition on carrying a loaded firearm in public — something the new law allows.

“The fact that this time period for establishing the permitting process is specified in the statute does not mean that it actually will take that amount of time for the state police to complete the process,” Stiehl wrote.

Shepard, of Cobden in southern Illinois, was 69 years old in 2009 when she was beaten by an intruder and left for dead. She has said that had she not been barred from carrying a gun, she could have thwarted the attack.

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