By Eric R. Sonnenberg
Tuesday, Dec. 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh District struck down the Illinois ban on concealed carry of firearms. Illinois has 180 days to write a law legalizing concealed carry and join the other 49 states, all of which already have some form of concealed carry.
Illinois has been the only state in the union with no form of concealed carry since Wisconsin passed it legislatively more than a year-and-a-half ago. This court decision was the only way Illinois was going to get concealed carry because our legislature wasn’t going to get it done anytime soon.
This is a great day for the law-abiding citizens of Illinois. Once concealed carry takes effect here, they will finally be able to protect themselves and their families, not only in their home, but anywhere they may be.
In the court’s decision, Judge Richard Posner ruled Illinois’ ban on carriage is unconstitutional. The judge went on to say: “One doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense in the 18th century could not rationally have been limited to the home. … Twenty-first century Illinois has no hostile Indians. But a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk than in his apartment on the 35th floor.”
Our state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan (D), has the right to appeal this ruling, but I don’t think that will happen. The writing is on the wall, and we will be getting concealed carry. When, not if, and what form it takes are now the big questions.
Illinois lawmakers have 180 days to write the law, but when that new law will take effect is another matter. It took Wisconsin about six months to implement the law, and I am sure it will take Illinois at least that long.
When Wisconsin’s law took effect, more than 80,000 applications for concealed carry permits were submitted. That is peanuts compared to the numbers we will see in Illinois, because Illinois is a much more populated state. The estimate is that more than 325,000 will apply in the Land of Lincoln.
The avalanche of applications will surely overwhelm the system here, and there is no way the State of Illinois will be able to process them in a timely fashion. It is already taking the Illinois State Police more than two months to process a FOID (Firearm Owner’s Identification) card application.
Potential permit holders in Illinois also better start getting their concealed carry guns now because gun sales were already at an all-time high, but now small, concealable firearms will be flying off the shelves and will be getting very hard to get.
Since early Tuesday afternoon last week, my phone has been ringing constantly. I do business with the top 10 to 12 distributors in the country, and many makes and models simply are not to be had already.
Until the new law is written, we also don’t know what restrictions and requirements will be attached to it. Many Illinoisans have already obtained Florida and/or Utah concealed carry permits in anticipation of Illinois getting it, but there is no certainty that Illinois will even have a reciprocal agreement with other states’ permit holders.
While there are many details that need to be worked out, one thing is certain: when we do finally get to carry and defend ourselves, it will give the criminal element cause for pause. They will no longer be able to assume their intended victims won’t be (legally) armed and not able to shoot back. That may help stem the tide of the soaring increase in violent crime we have seen in Illinois.
This court decision is definitely a win for the good guys and supporters of the Second Amendment. The bad guys will now have to wonder if their potential victims have a gun in their pocket or are just happy to see them.
Eric R. Sonnenberg is a Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer who owns Forest City Firearms, 137 N. Chicago Ave., Rockford or online at www.forestcityfirearms.com. He can be reached at (815) 262-4279 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Dec. 19-25, 2012, issue