(BLOGS.SUNTIMES) — In a huge win for gun-rights groups, a divided federal appeals court in Chicago Tuesday tossed the state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons and gave Illinois’ Legislature 180 days to craft a law legalizing concealed carry.

“The debate is over. We won. And there will be a statewide carry law in 2013,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

In a split opinion (see below), the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling in two cases downstate that upheld the state’s longstanding prohibition against carrying concealed weapons.

Illinois is the only state with an outright prohibition on concealed carry.

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