The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today handed down a huge victory for Second Amendment advocates by declaring that the right to self-defense is “broader than the right to have a gun in one’s home” in a case that will force the Illinois Legislature to craft a carry statute after years of saying no.
The ruling may be read here.
It was a win for both the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association, which brought separate cases in Illinois seeking to require the state to adopt some form of carry legislation. SAF’s case, known as Moore v. Madigan, was filed first. The NRA’s case, Shepard v. Madigan, came later. Oral arguments for both cases were consolidated, but the cases remained otherwise separate.
Both organizations are declaring victory today, but the real winners could be the citizens of Illinois. The majority opinion, written by Judge Richard Posner, gives the Illinois legislature 180 days to come up with a new law “that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment…on the carrying of guns in public.”
“To speak of ‘bearing’ arms within one’s home would at all times have been an awkward usage,” Judge Posner wrote. “A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home.”
He later added, “To confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense described in Heller and McDonald.”
The ruling is something of a slap-down to the gun prohibition lobby, which has pushed the notion that the right to bear arms only applies to the confines of one’s home. It also constitutes a defeat for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose administration – like Richard Daley’s before him – had done everything in its power to thwart gun rights in the entire Prairie State.
There was one passage in Judge Posner’s ruling that might serve as a warning to lawmakers against creating a permit system that favors only the elite, while making it difficult for average citizens to obtain a carry license.
“(A) Chicagoan,” the judge reasoned, “is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk in a rough neighborhood than in his apartment on the 35th floor of the Park Tower. A woman who is being stalked or has obtained a protective order against a violent ex-husband is more vulnerable to being attacked while walking to or from her home than when inside. She has a stronger self-defense claim to be allowed to carry a gun in public than the resident of a fancy apartment building (complete with doorman) has a claim to sleep with a loaded gun under her mattress. But Illinois wants to deny the former claim, while compelled by McDonald to honor the latter.”
One might argue that SAF’s victory over Chicago’s handgun ban in the landmark McDonald v. City of Chicago case was literally handwriting on the wall. SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb issued a press release praising Judge Posner’s ruling.
“This is a victory for Illinois citizens who have been long denied a right recognized in the other 49 states; to have the means necessary for self-defense outside the home,” he said. “In the broader sense this ruling affirms that the right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the boundary of one’s front door. This is a huge victory for the Second Amendment.”
The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the ruling is “a big win for gun rights groups,” without actually naming the organizations that brought the two cases. The story quotes Todd Vandermyde, NRA lobbyist in Illinois, saying that “there will be a statewide carry law in 2013.”
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told Examiner this morning that his group, which was a party to the Shepard lawsuit, will immediately begin working with the legislature to create an acceptable measure. Thus, the holdout status of Illinois as the only state to prohibit some form of carry for personal protection will come to an end.
The ruling is another notch on the legal sixgun of attorney Alan Gura, who now represents SAF in several cases challenging gun laws on Second Amendment grounds. In the Moore case, attorneys David Segale and David Jensen were also deeply involved, Gottlieb noted. Gura argued the case before the Seventh Circuit panel for SAF.
“The Second Amendment means what it says,” Gura said in a statement to The Gun Mag, a monthly news magazine owned by SAF. “Americans enjoy the right to defend themselves and their loved ones from violent criminal attack.”
He called Posner’s ruling “consistent with the constitutional text, and the historical tradition of armed self-defense by responsible, law abiding Americans.”
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Second Amendment Foundation
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
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