It's the duty of state prosecutors to enforce the law until the law is changed by the proper authorities.
It would be a gross understatement, to say the least, to suggest that Illinois is in a state of confusion on the issue of a citizen's right to carry a concealed weapon. It's in a state of chaos and confusion.
Here's the problem.
In December 2012, a federal appeals court struck down Illinois' ban on concealed carry, ruling that it violates citizen rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court gave the Illinois General Assembly six months to pass a concealed-carry law. The deadline was scheduled to expire on June 9, but the appeals court gave an additional 30 days to allow more leeway for the legislative process.
State legislators passed a concealed-carry bill in the legislative session's waning days and sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature. But Quinn is uncertain what he'll do with the bill, and critics of the legislation have urged him to veto it.
If Quinn vetoes the bill or if he has not taken action by July 9, citizens still will have the right to carry a concealed weapon. But there will be no rules. That's why Quinn needs to sign the bill.
If that uncertainty is not bad enough, various state's attorneys, mostly in downstate, have announced that they will peremptorily stop enforcing Illinois' ban on concealed carry because they don't agree with it. They say they won't wait until July 9, when the current ban expires and concealed carry takes effect.
These public officials are acting precipitously. They took an oath to enforce the laws of the State of Illinois, not to pick and choose the laws they will enforce. They may characterize their decisions as acts of prosecutorial discretion, but discretion is exercised on a case-by-case basis.
July 9 will come soon enough. Until then, the state's attorneys in Illinois would do well to emulate the position taken by Sangamon County State's Attorney John Milhiser.
"We're going to have a concealed-carry law. But until we have one, I can't come out and say I'm not going to enforce the (current) law," he said.
Concealed-carry supporters may question that decision. But it's Milhiser's job, and he swore an oath to carry it out.