Right to bear arms lawsuit in Illinois: Professors’ amicus brief

Currently before the Illinois Supreme Court is People v. Aguilar, which raises the question of whether Illinois can, consistently with the Second Amendment, prohibit the carrying of firearms for lawful self-defense in public places. Illinois is the only state with such a blanket prohibition. Illinois state law bans open and concealed carry, and has no procedure for licensing either. The only people allowed to exercise the right to defensive carry are persons in some specially-favored categories, such as elected officials and security guards.

Oklahoma City Univ. law professor Michael O’Shea has written an amicus brief in the case, on behalf of co-authors of the forthcoming law school textbook Firearms Law and the Second Amendment (Aspen, 2012). O’shea’s co-authors Nicholas Johnson (Fordham) and I both made some suggestions for the brief, but the vast majority of the work was done by O’Shea. As the brief demonstrates, McDonald and Heller make it clear that the Second Amendment protects a right to carry arms (except in “sensitive places”). The brief does not argue in favor of a particular system for licensed or unlicensed carry. Rather, our point is that a complete prohibition is facially unconstitutional; there is no need to get into the standard of review issues that would be involved in a regulation (as opposed to a complete prohibition) of the exercise of the right to bear arms.