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Concealed weapons: Illinois's last-in-the-nation ban must go, US court rules

At least some Illinois legislators say the ruling will help calm the violence in Chicago, where the nation's strictest gun controls have failed to quell growing numbers of gang shootings this year.

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In this March 2012 photo, gun owners and supporters participate in an Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day rally at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. In a big victory for gun rights advocates, a federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois, the only remaining state where carrying a concealed firearm is entirely illegal.

Seth Perlman/AP/File

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Within six months, lawful citizens in Chicago – the site of 2,364 shootings and 487 homicides so far this year – can carry concealed weapons in public for defense, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The closely watched ruling, which said it's unconstitutional for Illinois to keep citizens from carrying legal weapons in public, struck at the last bastion of gun prohibition in America. All other states allow people to carry concealed weapons, with some states demanding that authorities "shall issue" permits if applicants meet stated requirements.

The question of whether more guns in the hands of lawful citizens increases or reduces crime continues to be hotly debated throughout the United States, highlighted by incidents like the Trayvon Martin shooting earlier this year and the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide that ended at the Kansas City Chiefs training facility on Dec. 1.

But in Chicago, where the nation's strictest gun controls have failed to quell growing numbers of gang shootings this year, at least some legislators believe the ruling will help calm some of the violence, some of which has claimed innocent bystanders.

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