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Illinois asks court to keep banning most handguns in the state

By James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois asked an appeals court on Tuesday to reverse itself and allow a ban that prevents most people there from carrying concealed handguns in public.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, asked the full Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to review the decision, saying it was not consistent with recent decisions by other courts.

Last month, three days before the mass shooting at a Connecticut school on December 14, the appeals court declared the Illinois concealed carry law unconstitutional, calling it the most restrictive gun law in the United States.

Until the ruling, Illinois was the only one of the 50 states to ban most residents from carrying concealed weapons.

The three-judge panel decided by a vote of 2-to-1 that the Second Amendment's guarantee of an individual's right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense "could not rationally have been limited to the home" as required by the long-standing Illinois law.

Judge Richard Posner, writing for the majority, said the Illinois ban on most people carrying a weapon outside the home was "arbitrary" and declared the measure unconstitutional.

He called the Illinois law the most restrictive gun law of any of the 50 states, allowing only the police, select security personnel and some hunters and members of target shooting clubs to carry handguns.

The appeals court said its ruling would not take effect until early June to give state lawmakers time to amend the law and come up with less restrictive rules for gun possession outside the home.

A spokesman for the Illinois State Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Madigan's petition.

Madigan said on Tuesday that her petition for a rehearing did not affect that deadline.

The cases, which were consolidated for oral argument before the appellate court, are Michael Moore and Mary E. Shepard v. Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of Illinois, 12-1269, 12-1788.

(Reporting by James Kelleher)

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