Illinois AG seeks extension on gun-permit appeal

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court Monday for more time to decide whether to appeal a court's ruling that the state's ban on the public possession of firearms is unconstitutional.

A petition seeking a 30-day extension — until June 24 — argued that the December ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals conflicted with several other rulings on guns, including a federal appeals court's finding on New York's restrictive concealed carry law. The Supreme Court announced earlier this month it would not hear an appeal of that case.

The 7th Circuit called Illinois' prohibition on the carrying of concealed firearms unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to remedy the problem by June 9.

Legislators continue to argue about what the law should say. Madigan has until May 23 to decide on an appeal to the high court.

"No decision has been made yet in terms of what our next steps will be," Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. "But the attorney general will make a final decision partly based on a very careful review of a draft petition."

The request from Madigan's solicitor general, Michael Scodro, contends that the December ruling about Illinois' ban created conflicts about whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies outside the home and if it does, what standards should govern it. It said there is also a question about a state's ability to respond to a lawsuit about the regulations.

And the request mentioned the New York case that the high court declined to consider. It said the December ruling on Illinois does not consider the New York court's determination that "the Legislature is 'far better equipped than the judiciary' to make sensitive public policy judgments" about carrying firearms.

New York has a restrictive "may issue" law, in which law enforcement has wide latitude to deny permits.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who favors strict controls on guns, has urged Madigan to appeal.

Bauer said even if there is an appeal, the Legislature must still meet the June 9 deadline, which is the date on which the federal court determined that, the unconstitutional concealed carry ban would expire. Without other action, widely permissive gun-toting rules would apply.

The extension also allows Madigan to consider what, if any, action the Legislature takes, Bauer said.

Lawmakers have wrangled over the issue, with divisions falling along geographical lines.

Chicago Democrats weary of street violence in the metropolis want restrictive rules governing where and when citizens may carry guns. Second Amendment devotees in the rest of the state, both Republican and Democrat, argue that police should issue permits to virtually anyone who passes background checks and acquires the requisite safety training.

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