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Annie Get Your Gun... but You Have to Wait 9 Months

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Illinois was the last holdout state to enact a concealed carry law (check out Slate's helpful map) -- not that it wasn't heavily contested. The controversy started when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a portion of an Illinois law making it illegal for persons to carry weapons in public as a violation of the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights. The court stayed its mandate for 180 days, effectively giving Illinois lawmakers time to enact a law that complied with its ruling.

On May 31, the Illinois General Assembly passed a concealed carry law making it legal for people to carry firearms in public. On July 2, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the measure. But just one week later, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the governor's veto.

So why are we still talking about this?

As The Associated Press reports, gun rights advocates and supporters of the law believe that it should go into effect immediately -- as in the day after it was passed. Under the Firearms Concealed Carry Act, the state has 180 days to make applications for licenses available and another 90 days to issue or deny a license. According to plaintiffs, this nine-month delay is just too long and a continued violation of their Second Amendment rights.

Plaintiffs and the state have been going back in forth in federal District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, with defendants arguing mootness (because the law was passed), and plaintiffs countering that the time needed to set up the infrastructure to administer the new law is too long and a continued violation of their Constitutional rights.

According to the AP, an assistant Illinois attorney general wrote in the state's argument:

When the Seventh Circuit stayed its mandate to give the General Assembly 180 days to craft legislation, the court could not have envisioned that a permitting process, complete with administrative rules, trained personnel, and a system of background checks, would spring into existence instantly upon the bill becoming law.

Now it's up to the district court to determine whether the issue is moot as the state contends, or whether the set-up period is a continued violation of plaintiffs' rights. It seems that even though a fundamental right is in question, the state has a compelling interest to set up and administer the application process properly. Who knows, by the time all this litigation is resolved, the process may already be in place, rendering this all moot.

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