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Attorney general said she's waiting to see what lawmakers do

SPRINGFIELD --- Gov. Pat Quinn today called on Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a court order that requires Illinois to approve legislation this spring that would let citizens carry guns in public.

The governor's move ramps up pressure on Madigan, a potential rival to Quinn in the March 2014 Democratic primary campaign, to keep the court fight alive. The Illinois General Assembly is working on fashioning legislation to put a concealed weapons law in place.

At issue is a December decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled Illinois’ decades-old ban on allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons is unconstitutional. A three-judge appeals court panel gave Illinois until June 9 — about six months from its December decision — to pass legislation that would give citizens the right to carry guns in public with reasonable restrictions. Madigan lost a request for a review by all judges in the federal appeals court.

But Quinn said Madigan should take the issue further. The governor said the “only hope” Illinois has of keeping its ban on carrying concealed weapons intact is to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The attorney general ought to take a look at that, and pursue that, and make sure that this is the law of the land,” Quinn said.

Madigan said she is “waiting to see what the legislature is doing.” She maintained there would be no point of appealing the federal court order to allow concealed carry in Illinois if legislation is worked out to before the court’s June 9 deadline for action. She said the U.S. Supreme Court would not consider an appeal of the case that struck down the state’s current ban if it is replaced with a new law soon.

“We’re watching what’s going on, obviously, in the Legislature because, if they pass something…appealing the decision would be moot,” Madigan said.

She also said she does not know what the Supreme Court would “ultimately do” if it considered the case. She noted the federal appeals court order for Illinois to allow concealed weapons had broadened prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court has tilted rulings in recent years toward gun owner rights.

Illinois remains the only state that does not allow some form of concealed carry to citizens.

Quinn said the decision on whether to appeal is “up to her. She’s the lawyer for the people of Illinois, and I certainly respect her prerogatives.”

“But I think this is so serious, I believe in gun safety, and I think the people in Illinois believe in gun safety, and to just have a federal court mandate that we should allow loaded weapons, concealed on a person, and allowed in a public place, that’s a pretty, pretty serious matter,” Quinn said.

The attorney general has urged passing a bill in the legislature, where her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has held debate in the full House. The House is considering legislation that allows concealed weapons as well as many proposals that put restrictions on where they would not be allowed, such as in churches or on public buses and trains.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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