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Court says Illinois must rewrite curbs on carrying concealed guns

An Evanston police officer holds a firearm that was turned in as part of an amnesty-based gun buyback program in Evanston, Illinois December
An Evanston police officer holds a firearm that was turned in as part of an amnesty-based gun buyback program in Evanston, Illinois December

By James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois lawmakers will have to rewrite the nation's toughest restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon in public by mid-June after a court on Friday ruled that the controls cannot remain in place.

Illinois was the only one of the 50 states to ban most residents from carrying concealed weapons until a U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago in December ruled the law violated the Second Amendment to the constitution protecting the right to bear arms.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan had asked the court to reconsider the ruling, but the request was denied on Friday by a 6-4 vote of the full 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Shortly after the court announced its decision, Madigan's father, the powerful Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, said that chamber will begin debate next week on the issue of guns.

It was not immediately clear what proposal to replace existing law would be considered by the legislature, which has Democratic supermajorities in both chambers.

Speaker Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, did not return an email Friday requesting comment on what the legislature will consider next week.

Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association which advocates for gun ownership, said Illinois might be able to keep some restrictions on concealed carry.

"But they have to be reasonable," Pearson said. "They can't make it so restrictive that average people can't do it."

Illinois, like many states, is split on gun control between lawmakers in the urban area of Chicago, who want more restrictions on guns to help curb rampant gun violence, and rural areas where hunting and gun ownership are popular.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Walsh)

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