Long Battle for Retired Officers’ Concealed Carry Rights: Dramatic Court Showdown Looms Near!

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In a battle that has spanned more than a decade, correctional officers and courthouse deputies are fighting with the State of Illinois for special concealed carry gun permits. Despite Governor JB Pritzker’s initial agreement and signing of a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2023, the state agency responsible for issuing the permits has refused to enforce the law, citing conflicts with federal guidelines. This duel could come to an end this Thursday when a Cook County circuit court judge decides on the matter. Many retired officers express frustration at the lengthy delay in resolving this heated conflict.

For retired Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Kush and others like him, their main concern is self-defense. Having invested 30 years in their careers, they find it difficult to comprehend why their rights are now being denied. With the possibility of encountering criminals from their past, they feel vulnerable without the ability to carry a concealed weapon for protection.

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) recognized the threat to retired officers back in 2004 by allowing them to carry concealed firearms even in places where they are not typically allowed. In Illinois, this entitlement is known as the “Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry” or IROCC card. However, for almost two decades, Illinois correctional officers and court deputies have been ineligible for this privilege, with state officials arguing that federal law was not meant to cover this specific subset of law enforcement.

Chicago State Senator Bill Cunningham (D- IL 18th District) disagrees, stating that Congress intended for correctional officers and court deputies to have this privilege. He authored HB 4667, which passed with majority support and was signed by Governor Pritzker in 2022. Yet, despite this law going into effect last year, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) refuses to issue the permits, claiming that these retired officers and deputies do not meet the criteria of “qualified law enforcement” under federal guidelines.

The ongoing dispute has led to a class-action lawsuit filed last July against the ILETSB by a group of retired officers who want the state board to issue permits as required by law. The Illinois Attorney General’s office, which represents ILETSB, has since filed a motion to dismiss the case. On Thursday, a judge could decide whether the case will proceed or be dismissed.

Governor Pritzker’s spokesperson, Alex Gough, stated that the ILETSB carried out an in-depth legal analysis and concluded that the state law conflicts with federal LEOSA law, and as such, state agencies and officers must follow federal law.

For retired officers like Tom Kush, the state’s refusal to issue these permits is a slap in the face, disrespecting their years of firearm qualifications and training. The outcome of Thursday’s court ruling could finally put an end to this long-standing dispute – or add another layer of complexity to an already divisive issue.

Next News Network Team

Next News Network Team

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