Court Strikes Down Illinois Ban on Guns

The state of Illinois had a very strict gun law that forbid anyone from carry a gun, even if it was unloaded, anywhere in the state with only a few exceptions.  The law did not apply to police or target shoots or hunters.  But in virtually every other scenario, no one was allowed to transport a gun off of their own private property.

The state law was challenged in court in the Moore v. Madigan case that went before the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  In this case, the state argued that since the Second Amendment ratification in 1791, there was no historic evidence to support the private right to carry firearms in public.

However, the 7th Circuit Court rejected the states argument.  In doing so, they pointed to the US Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago in which McDonald argued that the Second Amendment applies to the states as well as federal.  They also pointed to the case of District of Columbia v. Heller in which they argued that the Second Amendment provides ‘the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.’

The issue in Moore v. Madigan is whether or not the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to use arms to protect themselves outside or away from their own property.  Although the court refused to ‘engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home,’ they did conclude that the right to self-defense ‘is as important outside the home as inside.’

While this is being hailed a victory for gun rights activists, I urge a word of caution because the issue has not been completely resolved.  The 7th Circuit gave the state of Illinois 180 days to revamp their law in such a way as to make it stand up under constitutional scrutiny.

Additionally, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York law last week in the case of Kachalsky v. County of Westchester.  The New York law restricts conceal carry permits to only those individuals who can prove the need for special self-protection away from the home.

The two rulings, the one this week from the 7th Circuit and the one last week by the 2nd Circuit are at legal odds with each other, which places future decisions entirely up for grabs, possibly depending upon the personal views of the judges that sit on the panel.  The difference in the two rulings could force the US Supreme Court to hear one or the other later this year.  If they do, the high court will have to rule on whether or not a person has the right to carry arms outside as well as inside the home for self-protection.