CHESTER — A Southern Illinois prosecutor will not file charges against “responsible, law-abiding citizens” who carry concealed weapons in his jurisdiction.
“Effective immediately, the Randolph County State’s Attorney’s Office is announcing responsible, law-abiding citizens will finally be able to exercise their constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in Randolph County,” Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker said.
Guidelines regarding citizens who want to carry concealed weapons will be provided to all local police agencies in the county.
“In May I spoke with the Randolph County Police Association and indicated I would give the Legislature and the governor until June 9 (the date mandated by the Federal Appellate Court) to give citizens the opportunity to carry concealed weapons,” he said. “June 9 has come and gone with no resolution. Accordingly, I feel it is time to act.”
Lawmakers did pass concealed carry legislation, but Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign it into law. An appeals court extended the deadline for state action to July 9.
Walker is the second prosecutor in the state to announce he will no longer enforce the state’s no-carry law.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said last week he will not file charges if certain condi-tions are met by citizens who carry.
Not all prosecutors agree.
“Absolutely not,” Williamson County State’s Attorney Charles Garnati said. “Our duty as state’s attorneys is to enforce the law, not make the law. And, at this time, there is no law allowing concealed carry.”
Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw agreed.
“When and if concealed carry goes into law, we will follow that law,” he said.
State police, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association issued a public safety advisory that the state’s current unlawful use of a weapon statute will continue to be en-forced in all jurisdictions.
Randolph County Sheriff Mike Hoelscher said he backs Walker’s action and guidelines for concealed carry.
Under those guidelines, a person who wishes to carry concealed in Randolph County must have a Fire-arm Owners Identification Card; must not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under any court order or statute; must not be engaged in criminal conduct; and may not carry a firearm in the court-house, any school or church.
The firearm must be concealed. If stopped by police, the person must immediately notify the officer of the firearm’s presence.
“If they meet all the requirements, we will follow the state’s attorney’s direction,” Hoelscher said.
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