WASHINGTON (AP) — The next big issue in the national debate over guns — whether people have a right to be armed in public — is moving closer to Supreme Court review.
A provocative ruling by a panel of federal appeals court judges in Chicago struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois. The ruling is somewhat at odds with those of other federal courts that have largely upheld state and local gun laws, including restrictions on concealed weapons, since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling declaring that people have a right to have a gun for self-defense.
In 2008 the court voted 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller to strike down Washington’s ban on handgun ownership and focused mainly on the right to defend one’s own home. The court left for another day how broadly the Second Amendment may protect gun rights in other settings.
Legal scholars say the competing appellate rulings mean that day is drawing near for a new high court case on gun rights.
The appeals court ruling in Chicago came early in a week that ended with the mass shooting in Connecticut that left 28 people dead, including 20 elementary school children and the presumed gunman.
Laurie Levenson, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that along with thorny legal issues, “we have the overlay of these tragedies hitting us on a somewhat regular basis.”
The author of a book that traces the battle over gun control in the U.S. said he thinks Supreme Court intervention is likely in the short term. “Since the Heller case, the next great question for the Supreme Court to decide was whether there is a right to carry guns in public,” said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, whose book “Gunfight” was published last year.
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