While the Heller and McDonald decisions established the Second Amendment as a fundamental Constitutional right and applied that right to the states, those decisions focused almost entirely on the “keep” concept of “keep and bear.” Recognizing the common law right of self defense as the foundation of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals do indeed have a right to the arms most commonly in use for lawful purposes, including self defense, and specifically mentioned handguns.
The decisions left no doubt that one may possess firearms in the home and on one’s own property, but left unsettled whether one may carry firearms outside the home. If there is no such right, how one might manage to get a firearm to their property or home is an open question. In most states, such concerns are on the back burner, for most recognize the Second Amendment in their own constitutions, and the majority (39 at last check) have “shall issue” concealed carry laws, laws that require the state to issue a permit to any citizen not otherwise disqualified by mental illness, having been convicted of a felony, etc. Several states are “constitutional carry” zones where qualified citizens need no permit or permission from government to carry concealed weapons.
A number of states such as California, New York and the District of Columbia theoretically allow concealed carry, but in practice, only the wealthy or politically favored can obtain a license. Illinois remains the only state that absolutely prohibits the overwhelming majority of citizens from protecting their lives outside their homes or property. That changed in December of 2012 with a ruling of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the Moore v. Madigan case. ABC News has the story:
“A federal court ruling tossing out Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons might end the last such gun prohibition in the country, but not without a fight.
The question is whether the battle will be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been silent on the issue of concealed weapons, or a legislative confrontation over the court’s order that Illinois adopt a law allowing concealed carry with “reasonable limitations” as in other states.
Gun control advocates urged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to quickly appeal Tuesday’s ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Illinois’ ban is unconstitutional. Madigan’s office said she is studying the issue. But the ban’s defenders said they were more certain of fireworks over a second part of the ruling — an order for the Illinois Legislature to come up with a law legalizing the concealed carry of weapons within 180 days.
‘I expect a battle,’ said Barbara Flynn Currie, the House Majority Leader and a longtime gun control advocate. ‘The proponents of concealed carry have not yet carried the day.”
Illinois is much like New York State and several other states. Chicago essentially rules the state and the democrat machine imposes its priorities on the rest of the state, which often does not share its political leanings. It’s common knowledge that despite having among the strictest gun prohibitions in the nation, Chicago also has a stratospheric crime rate, including murder. As is always the case where law-abiding citizens are denied the right to self defense, criminals have no difficulty whatever obtaining illegal guns.
Judge Richard Posner, a nationally recognized legal authority, had a significant role in the court’s opinion:
“In the appellate ruling, Judge Richard Posner, author of the majority opinion, suggested that there was no excuse for the state not to join the rest of the nation when it comes to concealed weapons. He wrote, ‘There is no suggestion that some unique characteristic of criminal activity in Illinois justifies the state’s taking a different approach than the other 49 states.”
Judge Posner is correct. It is Chicago’s Progressive politicians ignoring the reality of the rest of America that dooms Chicago to resemble an active war zone on any given day. Posner continues:
“But the majority included the 180-day stay of its ruling to ‘allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public,’ Posner wrote. The fight in the Legislature would be over what constitutes ‘reasonable limitations.”
The battle for Second Amendment liberties in Illinois exactly mirrors the battles that have been fought and won in the other states. On one side is an entrenched Progressive political machine, usually centered in a large city. Progressive political machines generally feel any limitation on this particularly fundamental is perfectly allowable. When one starts from the position of absolute bans and confiscation, any lesser limitation might seem reasonable, even a compromise, by comparison.
On the other is the rest of the state, trending conservative and independent. All of the same old, discredited arguments are being recycled. Concealed handguns will result in old west-like shootouts whenever there is a traffic accident or an argument among neighbors. Crime rates will increase, murders will be as common as pennies, and blood will run in the streets. In every state where shall-issue concealed carry is in effect, the same arguments have been hysterically tried. None have come to pass. In fact, crime rates have decreased, and continue to decrease across the nation despite the skyrocketing number of firearms in private, law-abiding hands.
The only mystery over the last several months has been whether Illinois anti-gun forces would do down shooting, or, if they recognize reality and at least pretend to honor the rule of law, to what degree they would try to limit gun rights. Now we know. The Chicago Tribune, on May 31, reports:
“The Illinois Senate is debating a new version of legislation to give Illinoisans the right to carry concealed weapons as lawmakers try to get a bill to the governor’s desk before today’s midnight adjournment deadline.
Chicago’s ban on assault weapons would be kept intact, and concealed weapons would be banned from numerous sites, such as CTA and Metra buses and trains, casinos, government buildings and stadiums. The bill moved to the full Senate on an 8-6 vote of the Executive Committee….”
This is deviously clever. Banning guns on busses and trains would have the effect of essentially banning all handguns for anyone working in downtown Chicago, which is, of course, one of the gun banners primary goals. It would also have the effect of disarming the poor, a group Progressives pretend to care about.
“Under the proposal, a five-year concealed weapons permit would be issued to applicants. Law enforcement could object, and an applicant could appeal to a seven-member board designed to have people with such credentials as former judges or FBI agents. A person would have to complete 16 hours of training before getting a gun.”
A substantial issue still unresolved is preemption. Virtually every shall-issue state has a preemption law, preventing cities within the state from writing gun laws, particularly those more stringent than state law. This is rationally necessary to prevent the kinds of abuses that would be inevitable if citizens had to worry about laws fundamentally changing from city to city, or even block to block. Of course, progressive-ruled cities see a lack of preemption laws as a feature, not a bug.
“Attempts were made to allow gun owners to carry through different communities without getting hung up on a patchwork of local laws.
But Forby got peppered by lawmakers who worried that the legislation opened up the potential to allowing a person with a firearm owners identification card to have as many as 100 guns in his car trunk without violating laws.
Forby said he saw nothing illegal, prompting some lawmakers to shake their heads in disappointment.”
Again, we see the remnants of progressive thinking. It’s the state’s business to regulate how many guns a citizen is allowed to own or carry and under which circumstances. Consider these additional, restrictive views:
“Democratic Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago policeman, also questioned why the legislation would allow people to carry concealed weapons in places where more than half of the sales are for food.
Forby said a restaurant or bar owner also can put up a sign that says no guns are allowed, but Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, said the option is ‘ludicrous’ because it would be hard to know who was complying with the sign unless there were a metal detector at the door.
Forby parried that somebody always will break the law ‘no matter what you do.’
Democratic Sen. Kim Lightford of Maywood contended the bill fails to give ‘enough protections in violent situations.”
Why should citizens lose their right to preserve their lives in restaurants? What does dining out have to do with the exercise of fundamental liberties? Should any citizen trust a police officer determined to deny fundamental liberties to those he supposedly serves?
For those who have remained informed over the years, reading of the debate in Illinois is like reading historical documents and reliving outdated ideas that have been entirely discredited. How could anyone imagine that such ideas were even remotely rational?
It appears that Illinois will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into modernity. However, the issue of concealed carry is far from completely resolved. In February, Fox News reported on a ruling by another appeals court:
“A federal appeals court has ruled that permits allowing people to carry concealed weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment.
The ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was issued Friday in a case involving Washington state resident Gray Peterson.
A federal judge in 2011 tossed out Peterson’s lawsuit filed against Denver and the state’s Department of Public Safety. Peterson claims that being denied a concealed weapons permit because he was not a Colorado resident violated his Second Amendment rights to bear firearms….
In its ruling, the three-judge panel cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.’
‘In light of our nation’s extensive practice of restricting citizen’s freedom to carry firearms in a concealed manner, we hold that this activity does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections,’ the judges ruled.”
Under the 10th Circuit’s reasoning, American’s right to bear arms extends only to their homes and possibly their property. Under this thinking, the state could theoretically prohibit citizens from carrying weapons to their home from a gun store, and otherwise limit their ability to protect themselves, making the Second Amendment a right with no practical application. What good is a fundamental freedom that only applies under highly restrictive circumstances? Such a freedom is neither fundamental nor a freedom, rather, it’s a state regulated privilege.
Conflict between appeals courts makes a Supreme Court hearing of the issue more likely. It is unlikely that Illinois Democrats will appeal to the Supreme Court, at least with its current composition. They know it would be unlikely to rule their way. However, if Barack Obama, steeped in the Chicago Way, should be able to change the balance of the Court, establishing a majority that will decide cases not on the Constitution, but on their progressive whims, we can expect Chicago’s political machine to rush a case there before the ink is dry on the filing.
The battle to force those that would rule us to recognize our right to preserve our very lives never ends. Despots can never be satisfied.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.