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updated: 6/14/2013 5:21 PM

3rd prosecutor says he'll allow concealed carry

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Associated Press

PEKIN, Ill. -- A downstate prosecutor became the third state's attorney to announce that he won't wait for the governor to sign a bill into law that would allow concealed weapons, saying Friday that it doesn't make sense to enforce a law that a federal appeals court has deemed unconstitutional.

"Although the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed its ruling to allow the legislator to act, as a prosecutor I cannot ignore the Court's ruling that the `blanket prohibition' on concealed carry is unconstitutional," Tazewell County Stewart Umholtz said in a statement released Friday. "A citizen who wishes to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry a firearm outside of the home for self-defense should not be placed in a situation where they fear prosecution if they exercise a Constitutional right."

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In recent days, officials in a number of counties have signaled their own impatience with Illinois' failure to create a concealed carry bill that the court ordered six months ago. The legislature passed a concealed carry bill late last month.

State's attorneys in Randolph and Madison counties announced they will let their residents carry concealed weapons and the sheriff in Clinton County has said that anyone in his jurisdiction from counties that allow concealed weapons won't be arrested on charges of packing heat.

In his statement, Umholtz voiced his own frustration.

"Sadly, Illinois has often occupied "last in the nation" status," he wrote.

While legal experts have said that prosecutors are within their rights to decide which cases to pursue, those decisions not to enforce the state's concealed carry law has drawn criticism from other Illinois prosecutors and the Illinois State Police.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn has said little about why he has not signed the bill or the possible reservations he might have about it. Quinn's office said this week that he was "reviewing the bill carefully."

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