(NaturalNews) It is being hailed as a victory by gun rights advocates that is perhaps sweeter than any previous pro-Second Amendment ruling.
Following a recent trend in which successive federal courts have upheld an individual's right to keep and bear arms, a federal appeals panel in Chicago has thrown out the state's ban on carrying concealed weapons and ordered the Illinois Legislature to craft a law legalizing the practice within 180 days. Illinois was the only remaining state in the union that did not permit concealed carry.
"The debate is over. We won. And there will be a statewide carry law in 2013," said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, which has been pushing for concealed carry in Illinois for some time.
'The Supreme Court has decided...'
In a 2-1 decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling in a pair of cases from the southern part of the state that upheld a longstanding prohibition against the carrying of a concealed weapon, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home," Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court's majority opinion.
"The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense," he continued.
"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. It has failed to meet this burden," Posner wrote.
"The Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment therefore compels us to reverse the decisions in the two cases before us and remand them to their respective district courts for the entry of declarations of unconstitutionality and permanent injunctions," he wrote.
"Nevertheless we order our mandate stayed for 180 days to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public," the federal jurist said.
Writing as the minority, Judge Ann Williams said the state was within its right to ban weapons in "sensitive places" like government buildings, universities and churches, in the name of public safety - a typical anti-gun mindset which is as antithetical to the letter and spirit of the Second Amendment as it is illogical (the act of carrying a gun is, in and of itself, done to improve "public safety").
No room for an appeal
"The Illinois legislature reasonably concluded that if people are allowed to carry guns in public, the number of guns carried in public will increase, and the risk of firearms-related injury or death in public will increase as well," Williams wrote. "And it is also common sense that the danger is a great one; firearms are lethal."
Economist John Lott, who has studied and written extensively on the issues of guns and gun crimes, disagrees. In a recent op-ed posted online at FoxNews.com, Lott wrote that the "Murder rates consistently rise when guns are banned."
"This is not just a U.S. phenomenon in places such as Washington, DC and Chicago, but has been observed worldwide. When guns are banned, even in island nations such as the UK, Ireland, and Jamaica, the pattern has been the same. The problem is that gun bans disarm law-abiding good people, not criminals," he wrote.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, said her office will examine the ruling before deciding whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court - which, as Judge Posner pointed out, has already decided the issue.