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Illinois pushes again to block hastened concealed carry

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS – Gun rights advocates pressed anew Thursday for a federal judge to allow firearms to be carried publicly in Illinois, arguing in a court filing that waiting months for the permit process to be outlined under the state’s new concealed carry law is unjustified and unconstitutional.

The state of Illinois fired back, saying in its own filing that the request from Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association is moot and should be thrown out.

Thursday was the deadline U.S. District Judge William Stiehl set last week for both sides to make their cases in writing. While Shepard’s filing asks Stiehl to decide the matter by July 25, no hearing date has been set.

Under the last-in-the-nation concealed carry law, which was passed July 9, Illinois State Police have 180 days to set up a program before accepting applications, plus an additional 90 days to process the forms.

Shepard considers that unreasonably long, arguing Thursday that she isn’t challenging elements of the new permitting process “but rather the complete ban on carrying firearms that continues to exist until the permitting process is up and running.”

“The delay proposed by the state constitutes an unacceptable perpetuation of the defendants’ infringement of the Second Amendment rights of Ms. Shepard and the other law-abiding citizens of the state of Illinois,” the filing on her behalf argued, insisting “no Wild West anarchy would ensue” if Stiehl sided with Shepard.

Lawmakers passed the concealed-carry measure over Gov. Pat Quinn’s vehement objections, narrowly beating a deadline set by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last December ruled the state’s ban on public possession of handguns unconstitutional.

In its own filing Thursday, the Illinois Attorney General’s office argued that Shepard’s quest for hastened concealed carry should be tossed out. The reason: Shepard’s lawsuit, which first helped bring about the 7th Circuit’s decision, challenged the state’s blanket prohibition on carrying a loaded firearm on public – that’s something the new law now allows.

Challenging the legality of the number of months state police have to set up the program, Madigan’s office submits, would require Shepard and the state rifle group to file a new complaint spelling out why such a wait is onerous or illegal.

“Illinois has adopted a system that requires a permit to carry a loaded firearm in public, and that new statutory scheme is now in place,” Karl Triebel, an assistant Illinois attorney general, wrote in Thursday’s filing. “Whether any part of the new regime, which includes (time allotted to set up the program and review applications), violates the Second Amendment presents a separate question.”

Shepard, of Cobden, was 69 years old in 2009 when she was beaten by an intruder and left for dead. She has said that had she not been barred from carrying a gun, she could have thwarted the attack.

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