Former prosecutor says it could take 10 years to finalize concealed-carry

2012-12-12T04:01:00Z 2012-12-12T07:50:59Z Former prosecutor says it could take 10 years to finalize concealed-carryBy KURT ERICKSON - H&R Springfield Bureau Chief Herald-Review.com

SPRINGFIELD — A former prosecutor who announced last summer he wouldn’t enforce the state’s ban on concealed weapons said it could take nearly a decade for the courts to clarify Illinois gun laws.

Ron Dozier was serving in an appointed role as McLean County state’s attorney when he made national headlines in August by announcing that his office would not file charges against law-abiding citizens who possess weapons.

“We will no longer use the power and authority of our office to criminalize and punish decent otherwise law-abiding citizens who chose to exercise their rights granted under them by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their families,” Dozier said at the time.

Dozier, who left office earlier this month, said he was pleased with Tuesday’s federal court decision that called on the state legislature to craft a measure allowing Illinoisans to begin carrying loaded weapons in public.

But the former judge warned that the fight is likely far from over.

Dozier said he expects concealed carry opponents to try and load down any new law with numerous restrictions to limit how many people can qualify for a concealed carry permit.

If opponents are successful, gun rights advocates will have to fight the law in court, potentially leaving gun owners to wait for clarification on what is legal, he said.

As examples, Dozier said concealed carry opponents could attempt to write several stumbling blocks into a new law, from exorbitant fees to lengthy gun safety courses.

“Will they require a 40-hour course or a six-hour course?” Dozier said. “Will they require there to be a need for you to have one of these permits?

“These are all things that had to be litigated in other states and may have to be litigated in Illinois,” Dozier said. “I said in 2010, it was going to take 10 years of litigation and court decisions for us to know exactly what the Supreme Court considers a reasonable restriction and what is not.”

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said the court ruling is under review.

Dozier said the opposition will continue to come from lawmakers in Cook County, many of whom have voted to block previous attempts to legalize concealed carry by downstate members of the General Assembly.

“I’m confident the city of Chicago is not going to do anything to let us have guns if they can avoid it,” Dozier said.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|782-4043

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