The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday struck down an Illinois law that forbid a person from carrying a firearm in public, ruling that the law conflicted with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.
Heller held the Second Amendment protects Americans right to keep and bear arms "in defense of hearth and home." Writing the court's majority opinion, Judge Richard Posner ruled that the self-defense rationale underlying Heller applied outside the home as well (PDF).
"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," Posner explained in his ruling.
"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."
Illinois is the only state to have a blanket prohibition on carrying a usable gun in public. The other 49 states allow citizens to carry certain firearms in public, but some states require a permit. Posner held Illinois had not provided sufficient evidence that striking down the ban would increase the crime or death rates.
"Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety," he wrote. "It has failed to meet this burden."
Posner ordered for the ruling to be stayed, giving the Illinois legislature six months to come up with a new law permitting the carrying of guns.
The case was sparked by a lawsuit filed by former corrections officer Michael Moore and the Second Amendment Foundation.
“We are very happy with Judge Posner’s majority opinion,” Alan M. Gottlieb, the group's founder and president, said in a statement. “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.
[Glock pistol via Shutterstock]