CHICAGO — Backers of Illinois' ban on concealed weapons vowed Wednesday to fight for continued controls on gun possession, a day after a federal appeals court struck down the nation's last such prohibition as unconstitutional and ordered the state to craft a law allowing it.
Chicago aldermen joined gun control advocates in urging state Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal the ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said they would work with legislators to come up with a new law that would be sure to protect the public.
"I think it's important that we stress that public safety comes first," said Quinn, an ardent supporter of gun control, adding that people with a history of mental illness who are involved in domestic violence should not be able to carry weapons.
"I think that's where the people of Illinois are on this issue and anything having to do with guns and assault weapons and things like that. We cannot have those sorts of people eligible to carry loaded weapons on their person in public places, whether it be malls or churches or schools."
Quinn also said he will push for a ban on military-style assault weapons.
The ban's defenders said they expect a battle in the Legislature over the next six months as the state seeks to comply with the court order to craft a new law within 180 days. They noted that a number of states that allow concealed carry — such as Wisconsin, which approved it last year — still restrict where citizens can carry weapons.
"I expect a battle," said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a longtime gun control advocate. "The proponents of concealed carry have not yet carried the day."
Gun rights advocates, who long have argued that the Illinois ban violates the Second Amendment, celebrated the ruling as a major victory in their campaign to make Illinois the center of the national debate over gun control after Wisconsin tossed out its ban on concealed carry last year.
The gun rights backers interpreted the 2-1 appellate court ruling as a mandate instructing lawmakers to pass a bill allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons in public with few if any restrictions. Todd Vandermyde, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, said gun control advocates could forget any limits such as partial bans near places such as day care centers and schools.
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said lawmakers could quickly pass an existing concealed-carry bill when they reconvene the first week of January. The bill, he said, "contains all the things — background checks, classroom time — that all the parties wanted, so it's ready to go," but he said the sponsors may not need to include all those provisions this time around.
"We bent over backwards before and tried to accommodate everybody, and they just threw it in the garbage," Pearson said. "Maybe we won't be so accommodating now."