Need to move on gun issue

There's no excuse for the state's failure to act on the concealed carry issue.

The sand is slowly, but steadily, draining out of the hour glass for state legislators who are under a court order to draft a concealed carry gun law.

Majorities in the Democratic-controlled Illinois House and Senate have not yet complied with the court ruling because they do not want to comply. Mostly, they've busied themselves with trying to draft a concealed carry gun law in theory, but not in reality. The result is that nothing has gotten done.

The issue poses two separate challenges for state officials — one legislative and the other judicial.

The dilemma stems from a mid-December ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that declared Illinois' ban on concealed carry to violate the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

Illinois is the only state without a concealed carry law, and the appeals court — in a 2-1 decision — held that the blanket ban exceeds the state's authority. The court held that reasonable regulation is constitutionally permissible, but not a blanket ban, and gave the Legislature six months to draft a law complying with the court's ruling.

Since then, Attorney General Lisa Madigan sought an en banc review of that ruling by all the justices who preside in the 7th Circuit. Her request was rejected on a 5-4 vote by the justices.

Now Madigan is in the process of deciding whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. She should do so.

The law needs to be clarified. The 7th Circuit decision broke new legal ground by extending the right to keep and bear arms from inside the home to outside the home. A decision of that nature deserves to be reviewed by the nation's highest court, no matter if it's affirmed or overturned.

It would be a terrible error in judgment if Attorney General Madigan decided, either for tactical or political reasons, not to seek a high court review.

The Legislature's problem is altogether different. It's under order to pass a bill that it would never pass if left to its own devices.

Further, while Attorney General Madigan can act on her own, the Legislature is an elected body that is subject to lobbying by outside forces.

So far, the legislative debate — if one can even call it that — has been a disappointment. The pro-gun and anti-gun crowd talk past each other.

Pro-gun advocates often speak with such emotion that they come across as the opposite of what concealed carry advocates should be — sober, reflective people who pose no danger because of their familiarity and training with handguns as well as their respect for the law.

Anti-gun spokesman are equally strident, essentially seeing little difference between honest citizens and gang-bangers who ignore all gun laws and kill without conscience. Cities like Chicago do have gun violence problems, but that's a separate issue from concealed carry.

It would be reassuring if the Legislature would do the responsible thing, follow the court ruling and draft good-faith legislation allowing concealed carry. So far, it has shown no indication it will do so. At the same time, Madigan has yet to announce whether she'll ask for high court review. It's past time for both to act.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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Sid Saltfork wrote on April 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

Good opinion piece.  The "pro-gun", and "anti-gun" statements were on the mark.  There is still time for compromise if both sides would be willing to do so.