Pike County, Illinois, fired the latest salvo in the war to take back citizens’ firearms rights. In a March 20 election, county voters approved a CCW ordinance by 3,214 to 550 in what a news release termed one of the largest turnouts in county history. The ordinance, which conflicts with state law (Illinois has no concealed carry provisions for its citizens—the only state that completely prohibits concealed carry by its residents), took effect on passage.
The effort was led by two Pike County residents: Second Amendment activist Dr. Dan Mefford and Handguns magazine contributing editor Dick Metcalf. The approved ordinance permits so-called Constitutional carry in which residents may carry concealed without a permit or license. Currently, only Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and parts of Montana have Constitutional carry.
Interestingly, Illinois is one of only a handful of states that don’t have express preemption against local entities passing local ordinances regarding firearms and ammunition.
But most of the time that has worked the other way; cities and counties have been able to pass more onerous gun restrictions than are dictated by the state. For instance, Chicago, Morton Grove, Oak Park and a few other Illinois towns passed ordinances banning handgun ownership whereas Illinois state law contains no such prohibition. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 (McDonald v. Chicago) the Chicago and Oak Park bans to be unconstitutional, and that and the 2008 landmark Heller v. District of Columbia ruling have essentially forced many of the most restrictive bans to be modified.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot—residents wanting less gun control, not more—a legal challenge from the state is sure to follow. We’ll keep you posted.