Area state's attorneys say they tend not to prosecute people who violate the state's concealed carry law — if they aren't otherwise breaking the law.
"We normally have not prosecuted concealed carry cases as long as the person is not acting like a jerk," said Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler. "We don't want an otherwise law-abiding citizen to have a criminal record for carrying a firearm."
Several Illinois state's attorneys have publicly announced they would not enforce existing state law on concealed weapons because of a recent federal court ruling that claims the ban is unconstitutional. But Kibler said prosecutors, especially downstate, have been using prosecutorial discretion to ignore the law for some time.
"I don't think this is anything new," he said.
Kibler said the bigger issue his office faces is dealing with people traveling through the area from states that allow concealed weapons with a permit. Illinois is the only state that does not allow citizens to legally carry concealed weapons.
While the General Assembly passed a bill allowing concealed carry, Gov. Pat Quinn has not signed the bill into law.
Other area state's attorneys say they also shy away from prosecuting concealed weapons cases unless the person is otherwise involved in crime.
"If you are not doing anything else against the law, we will probably not charge you," said Shelby County State's Attorney Gina Vonderheide. "As state's attorneys, we have the obligation to enforce the Constitution, but we have a lot of discretion."
Jasper County State's Attorney Kevin Parker said he can't recall any cases in his county where someone has only been caught with a concealed weapon.
"It usually only comes to light if the person is arrested for something else," Parker said. "Clearly, at this point, I don't anticipate prosecuting anyone for this as long as the person is otherwise abiding by the law."
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or email@example.com.