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Court sets arguments in Ill. concealed-carry case

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS – Gun rights advocates trying to force a ruling to make Illinois’ concealed-carry law take immediate effect will have to wait at least more than a month for the decision from a federal appeals court.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments on the issue for Oct. 3, though it’s unclear how soon that Chicago-based court might then issue a ruling.

Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association want the 7th Circuit to immediately allow residents to carry weapons in public, arguing that the months allowed for Illinois State Police to set up the permit process and then sort through applications is untenable and illegal.

The state counters that the implementation period spelled out in the law passed in July by Illinois’ General Assembly should be allowed to run its course, citing that public safety could be compromised if appropriate background checks on applicants aren’t done as mandated.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office also insists Shepard and the rifle group need to file a new lawsuit to seek immediate conceal carry.

Under the last-in-the-nation concealed-carry law passed against Gov. Pat Quinn’s objections, Illinois State Police have 180 days to set up the permit process and an additional 90 days to process applications.

Shepard and the rifle group have labeled that in court filings as “foot-dragging” and a “daily, irreparable violation of their Second Amendment rights,” and they want gun owners’ Firearm Owners Identification cards to serve as concealed-carry permits “for the time being.”

That state argues the request for immediate concealed carry presumes Shepard and the rifle group, with some 27,000 members, “are qualified to safely carry loaded firearms in public, by virtue of a FOID card.”

“But without individualized determinations that each plaintiff is qualified to carry firearms in public — where the risks associated with the discharge of firearms are far greater than on private property — (the) plaintiffs’ request raises significant public safety concerns,” the state wrote in a recent filing with the 7th Circuit.

Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said Monday that work on outlining the permitting process is on schedule and “should occur in a couple of months.” State police also are establishing size and wording of signs to be posted by businesses who won’t allow concealed weapons on premises.

Shepard, 73, was severely beaten by an intruder in 2009 while working at her Baptist church in southern Illinois and was left for dead. She has said that had she not been barred from carrying a gun, she could have thwarted the attack.

Her latest filing with the 7th Circuit said she has an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification card, has no criminal record and has concealed-carry permits issued by Pennsylvania and Florida.

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