The city of Chicago has enacted some of the toughest gun laws in the United States in an attempt to control the city’s notoriously high rates of violent crime. Measures that they could not legislate to the satisfaction of the city council and Chicago police department without running afoul of the United States Constitution, politicians got around by making ownership restrictions so onerous that the average citizen could not, for practical purposes, legally own firearms anyway. Despite cautions from pro-gun groups and civil libertarians, Chicago’s city government had to learn for itself that strict gun control laws only prevent the law-abiding from possessing guns.
While the city leadership in Chicago seemed to think it would be acceptable to simply ignore Federal laws and the constitution of the United States, by practical effect or force of law, legal challenges have since worked their way through the system, and the United States Supreme Court has struck down a number of the significant illegal policies that the city has attempted to push on the citizens of Chicago. Gun stores are again conducting business within city limits, and concealed carry licenses are being issued. While this may seem initially to be a benefit for the residents of Chicago, it has caused some issues, as well.
A history of expansive legal restrictions combined with rapid changes in the law have created an environment of potential confusion where law abiding citizens can inadvertently commit serious offenses. This can be particularly problematic for people living in other areas of the state who travel to Chicago. Since Chicago itself has much stricter firearms regulation then the state at large, people who are not familiar with the legal specifics of the Chicago area who are acting completely within the law in other parts of Illinois may find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
One particularly problematic example of this is the city’s definition of a semiautomatic shotgun with a magazine capacity in excess of five rounds as an “assault weapon.” This feature is commonly found in hunting and sporting arms, which then typically have their capacity reduced to the particular amount required by the applicable ordinances for the particular type of game hunted by a removable plug fitted into the magazine tube. Since game ordinances vary both between geographic locations and the particular animal being hunted, manufacturers will usually fit their products with a “full length” tube. (A magazine tube that runs the full, or nearly full, length of the firearm’s barrel.) It is not hard to imagine that a hunter who has set up his firearm to be in compliance with local hunting regulations in his or her home area will think that the shotgun has a capacity of three rounds as used, and not take into consideration that with the magazine plug removed it will hold eight. Traveling through the city with it in the trunk of a vehicle is an offense that can get him or her arrested.
Contact a Chicago Area Criminal Defense Attorney
Being arrested or accused of a crime does not make you guilty, and in situations like these retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is often one of the best decisions that a person can make. The Law Office of David L. Freidberg, P.C. has been successfully defending the citizens of the Chicago area since 2000. If you have been accused of a firearms related offense, contact the Chicago Law Office of David L. Freidberg, P.C. toll free at (800) 803-1442 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org today to discuss your situation and learn your options.
(photo courtesy of Dodgerton Skillhause)