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Gun advocates push state to hurry up

Semi-automatic handguns are display for purchase gun store last July Springfield. On Monday first full day an online sign-up more

Semi-automatic handguns are on display for purchase at a gun store last July in Springfield. On Monday, the first full day of an online sign-up, more than 4,500 concealed carry applicants registered for state permits. | Associated Press file photo

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Updated: August 12, 2013 11:50AM

SPRINGFIELD — Despite Tuesday’s dramatic concealed-carry victory at the Statehouse, gun-rights advocates headed back into federal court Wednesday to object to the pace at which the state intends to carry out the new law.

Downstate gun owner Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association filed paperwork in two Downstate federal courts, seeking authority to begin carrying weapons now rather than wait during the 270-day implementation period they say the state intends to follow.

“The state’s proposed denial of Second Amendment rights for another 270 days is an unacceptable perpetuation of the state’s . . . infringement of Ms. Shepard’s and Illinois State Rifle Association members’ Second Amendment rights,” they said in a court filing Wednesday.

The plaintiffs went on to argue that “no threat to public safety” would occur if those possessing valid FOID cards were permitted immediately to carry their weapons under terms of the concealed-carry law because those applicants already have been screened.

“Furthermore, plaintiffs are not asking for an unfettered right to carry firearms in public; rather, they are requesting an injunction that would allow them to carry firearms in a manner consistent with the limits imposed by . . . the Firearms Concealed Carry Act,” the gun-rights advocates stated in their filing.

An aide to Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times that the gun-rights advocates make a faulty argument.

“If they want to challenge the new law, that’s something that would need to be brought in a new suit,” Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. “Our office is prepared to defend the constitutionality of the new law in court.”

The Sun-Times reported Tuesday that the roughly 300,000 anticipated gun owners who want a concealed-carry license from the state may not be able to get one until March 2014 at the earliest.

That’s because the law granted the Illinois State Police 180 days to make applications available for concealed-carry permits.

The agency has an additional 90 days after that to process applications for those who provide fingerprints and four months to handle those without. Over all, the State Police estimate the program will cost $25 million to run.

The plaintiffs also moved Wednesday to block Madigan’s motion to discuss the original lawsuit that resulted in a December ruling by a federal appeals court in Chicago that ordered Illinois to permit concealed carry.

Gun-rights advocates said the move, in part, could safeguard the ability to collect reimbursement from the state for all or part of the legal tab challenging Illinois’ prohibition concealed carry.

One advocate told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that the tab could exceed $500,000.

Madigan has maintained that the original case should be dismissed because of the General Assembly’s actions Tuesday.

“The case is now moot because, with the override of the governor’s amendatory veto, there is a provision in place that resolves the 7th Circuit’s decision declaring the ban on carrying guns in public as unconstitutional,” Bauer said. “If there are challenges to aspects of the new law, a new complaint must be filed.”

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