NRA Files Suit Against Unconstitutional Ban on Carrying Firearms for Self-Defense in Illinois

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posted on May 13, 2011
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Fairfax, Va. -- The National Rifle Association is funding and supporting a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Illinois' complete and total ban on carrying firearms for self-defense outside the home. The case, filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is Shepard v. Madigan.  The lead plaintiff is church treasurer Mary Shepard; joining her is the Illinois State Rifle Association, the NRA's state affiliate.

Mary Shepard is an Illinois resident and a trained gun owner with no criminal record, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in two other states.  Because Illinois remains the only state that completely prohibits all law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms for self-defense outside the home, Mary Shepard also became a crime victim.  While working as the treasurer of her church, Mrs. Shepard and an 83-year-old co-worker were viciously attacked and beaten by a six-foot-three-inch, 245-pound man with a violent past and a criminal record. Mrs. Shepard and her co-worker were lucky to survive, as each of them suffered major injuries to the head, neck and upper body.  Mrs. Shepard's injuries required extensive surgery and physical therapy.

"Mary Shepard isn't just a victim of the violent criminal who attacked her," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.  "She is also a victim of anti self-defense activists in the Illinois legislature who have consistently refused to recognize that good people have the right to protect themselves when they go about their everyday business.  We're pleased that the legislature has come closer this year than ever before to changing the law, but close isn't good enough for Mary Shepard and the thousands of other Illinois residents who are prohibited by statute from defending themselves outside the home."

Because Illinois statutes prohibit the right to keep and bear arms and the ability to carry handguns in Illinois, they infringe on the right of the people, including Mrs. Shepard, members of the ISRA and other law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and are thus null and void.

Cox concluded: "In its historic Heller and McDonald decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms.  Mary Shepard's story highlights the need for law-abiding citizens to be able to fully exercise their Second Amendment rights.  Whether through the legislature or through the courts, we won't rest until that happens."

The NRA has also filed or supported the following cases to preserve Second Amendment freedoms across the United States since the historic Heller and McDonald rulings, and expects to file more in the coming months:

  • Benson v. City of Chicago, challenging Chicago's unconstitutionally burdensome handgun restrictions;
  • Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller II), challenging Washington, D.C.'s overly restrictive firearm registration requirements and ban on commonly owned rifles;
  • Jackson v. City of San Francisco, challenging that city's gun storage and ammunition regulations;
  • Jane Doe v. Wilmington Housing Authority, challenging prohibitions on firearms ownership in Delaware public housing;
  • Jennings v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, challenging the federal law that prohibits law-abiding adults between the ages of 18-20 from buying handguns from licensed dealers;
  • NRA v. McCraw, challenging Texas' law that bans issuance of handgun carry permits to 18-20 year old adults; and
  • Peruta v. City of San Diego, challenging that city's refusal to issue handgun carry permits to law-abiding applicants.

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