Area legislators praise conceal, carry decision

Area legislators are praising a federal appellate court's ruling that conceal and carry gun laws in Illinois are unconstitutional.

"The Constitution affords our citizens the basic right to protection and to protect one's family, a right that has been denied far too long by the State of Illinois," State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said Tuesday in a news release.

"This decision by the court finally gives Illinois citizens the ability to exercise one of their basic freedoms."

Illinois has been the only state in the nation which has continued to ban a citizen's right to bear arms in any public place.

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said in a news release that the federal court's ruling "mandates that our state has 180 days to sit down at the table with those who have been against this plan from the beginning to come up with a realistic conceal and carry measure that will eventually become law."

Since taking office, Phelps has introduced several conceal and carry measures. Phelps said the measures were not successful "due to strong opposition from Chicago area lawmakers."

"With this added pressure from the court's ruling, I think we are the closest we have ever been and again are now knocking at the doorstep of ending the practice of punishing the wrong people and allowing law-abiding citizens to be eligible for concealed carry permits," Phelps said.

"It's past time to get this done in Illinois," he said. "The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to purchase, own and carry firearms without unreasonable government interference.

"Keeping concealed weapons from those who follow the law is a clear infringement on constitutional rights.

"I look forward to sitting down with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and fighting hard for a comprehensive plan that works for all of the parties involved."

Bradley said that according to the appellate court's decision, the State of Illinois "had to show that banning guns increases public safety." The appellate court "has determined that Illinois has failed to meet this burden of proof," Bradley said.

"With 49 other states allowing a form of concealed carry in public, we knew it was only a matter of time before Illinois would catch up to its neighbors," Bradley said.

"I am thrilled with the decision of the court, and look forward to working with my colleagues to finally ensure that the rights that Illinois citizens have been so long denied is coming to fruition."

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