Edwards Co. won't enforce IL concealed weapon ban: EXCLUSIVE - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Edwards Co. won't enforce IL concealed weapon ban: EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A prosecutor in Southern Illinois won't enforce the state's ban on carrying loaded, concealed handguns and other state's attorneys may soon announce the same policy.

State's Attorney Mike Valentine said he believes it's unconstitutional for Illinois to prohibit people from carrying loaded firearms in public. If you're otherwise law-abiding, he told Political Editor Mike Flannery by telephone, you won't face charges for packing heat in Edwards County.

Valentine said that, since he took office in 2008, no one's been prosecuted for peacefully carrying loaded firearms around Edwards County, population 6,000.

But Bloomington's McLean County, population 170,000, may soon announce a similar policy.

State's Attorney Ronald Dozier told us he's already sent a legal memo to other Illinois prosecutors explaining his belief that it's unconstitutional to ban the carrying of loaded firearms in public. Some are outraged.

"What if somebody walks into a soccer game and they have a Tek-9 pistol? Are they gonna do something or are they gonna say there's basically nothing they can do about it?" Senator Dan Kotowski asked.

"Higher law enforcement officials should look into it. I think the attorney general should look into this."

But a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said, "We are not the boss of state's attorneys. They're independently elected. And they have discretion over the charges they prosecute."

For State Representative La Shawn Ford, this latest gun-law dispute underscores a need for quick action in Springfield.

He's proposed a trade-off: enact a ban on so-called assault weapons, while granting each county the power to make its own decision about carrying concealed handguns.

"I think that each county, because of the differences, should decide on their own. Yes."

The upcoming election is a big reason the legalizing of concealed carry is in the spotlight now. Democratic State's Attorney Mike Valentine faces a tough re-election contest in Edwards County--which is closer to Nashville, TN, than to Chicago--in more ways than one.

In McLean County, on the other hand, Republican Ron Dozier chose not to run. He'll soon step down as state's attorney and sees this as a sort of legacy.

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