Public Safety & Justice

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of Gun Law

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state prosecutors must follow a ruling from a federal appeals court last year that ended Illinois' status as the last state without a concealed carry law.
September 16, 2013

Cook County prosecutors will drop weapons charges pending against a small number of licensed firearms owners after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this week that part of a state gun law is unconstitutional.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state prosecutors must follow a ruling from a federal appeals court last year that ended Illinois' status as the last state without a concealed carry law.

The ruling from the state's highest court affects only a portion of a law prohibiting people from carrying guns outside their homes. Cases of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon brought against people who have valid FOID cards and were carrying firearms will not be pursued, prosecutors and defense attorneys said.

Convicted felons or those charged under other parts of the statute are unaffected.

"It's going to be a very, very small percentage of those charged," said Fabio Valentini, who heads the Cook County state's attorney's office's criminal prosecutions bureau. The office does not plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a spokeswoman.

Prosecutors and other observers said the ruling does not give gun owners a green light to carry concealed guns now. Under a deadline from the federal appeals court, Illinois amended its gun laws — including its statute on aggravated unlawful use of a weapon — in July to permit concealed carry. This new law was specifically exempted in the high court's ruling. Illinois State Police have until next year to begin issuing permits. While a federal lawsuit brought by the Illinois State Rifle Association seeking to speed up that timetable is scheduled for oral arguments next month, the new law remains in effect.

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