State's attorney says she doesn't feel she could prosecute offenders
MONTICELLO — Piatt County State's Attorney Dana Rhoades has joined other officials in Illinois who say they will not prosecute anyone breaking the state's law banning concealed weapons.
In rulings in December and February, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state to enact a concealed-carry law by June 9.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the state additional time, to July 22.
Some prosecutors and law enforcement officials say the federal courts have invalidated Illinois' law and therefore it's not right to enforce the law.
"Technically people could be arrested, but ethically I don't feel I could prosecute it because the law has been struck down," Rhoades said.
Illinois is the only state to have a ban on concealed carry.
"It is unethical for me to prosecute a person for violating a statute that has been ruled unconstitutional," she explained.
The Illinois Legislature has passed a concealed-carry bill on May 31 and sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn. Under the bill, Illinois would become a "shall-issue" state, meaning that applicants for a concealed-carry permit would get it although law enforcement authorities could attempt to block the permit.
Applicants would also have to receive 16 hours of training.
Prosecutors in other counties, including Madison, Peoria, Randolph, Tazewell and White counties, have already said they won't enforce the law.
Rhoades decided to clarify her stance because there had been "considerable interest" in the issue. She emphasized that law-abiding citizens who choose to carry a firearm "must act responsibly," pointing out that a valid FOID card is also required.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz has not joined the list, agreeing with the General Assembly that training guidelines are needed.
"I am very concerned about making sure people are aware of their responsibility when they are carrying a weapon," Rietz said.
"I think it would be irresponsible to now come out and say I'm going to ignore the law as it exists today without that training component in place."
DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner hinted in a Facebook post that he would issue guidelines this week if Quinn does not sign the law.
"The sheriff and our state's attorney will be moving forward to set policy on the concealed carry issue. Sign the bill Governor!" said the June 21 Facebook post.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.