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3/6/2014 12:56:00 PM
Victim who backed concealed carry gets permit

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A southern Illinois retiree whose legal fight helped bring about an end to the state’s last-in-the-nation ban on concealed carry has become among the state’s first to get her permit to have a handgun in public.

Mary Shepard, 74, considered the mail she received Tuesday from Illinois State Police a reward — partly for slogging through ice and snow to her mailbox at the end of a long, rural driveway, and partly because of her legal push that followed a 2009 church attack that left her severely beaten while unarmed.

“I flipped through the mail, and there it was,” Shepard told The Associated Press by telephone from her home near Cobden. “I was just so over-the-top thrilled and unbelievably happy. I had waited so long for this, and I felt like I accomplished something. And here it was, making everything just worthwhile. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.”

Shepard, whose permit arrival was first reported by WSIL-TV in Harrisburg, Ill., became a gun-rights activist after she was randomly assaulted by an intruder while working as a treasurer at First Baptist Church in Anna. She has argued that had she not been barred from carrying a gun, she could have thwarted the attack.

After Shepard sued to have the state’s concealed carry ban thrown out, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2012 that the prohibition was unconstitutional.


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