By now almost everyone has heard about the Chicago unlawful use of weapon statute revisions. These are also referred to as Chicago gun charges.
After a protracted legal battle, Illinois has adopted legislation to permit individuals to carry a concealed gun, but the permits likely will not be issued until 2014. Illinois takes its place as the final state in the nation to approve a law to allow citizens to carry a concealed gun, but it has not been a smooth process and it may not be over yet.
The current process began in December of 2012, when the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional in response to a challenge to the State’s unlawful use of a weapon statute by gun rights advocate Mary Shepard. Pursuant to the holding of the 7th Circuit, the Illinois Legislature had until June 9, 2013 to enact legislation that permitted people to carry concealed guns. The Legislature was granted a one month extension and the Senate and House drafted and approved legislation, which subsequently was significantly modified by Governor Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto. However, with a Senate vote of 41-17 and a House vote of 77-31, the Legislature attained the three-fifths majority necessary to override the veto and enact the law.
The Legislature was under intense pressure to come up with some type of acceptable law before the deadline had past due to the uncertainty of what would happen with no regulation in place. Concealed carry supporters claimed that they would be able to carry concealed any type of gun anywhere without any restrictions. Gun control advocates claimed it would be up to local governments to craft and implement restrictions, which could be very strict. The Legislature attempted to reach a compromise with the legislation that was passed, allowing a very permissive process for gun owners to be able to obtain a permit to carry a concealed gun while enacting prohibitions about where these guns could be taken. Locations where concealed carry is not allowed include schools, parks, libraries, and buses and trains that are part of the mass transit system.While the Legislature was wrangling with language and restrictions on a person’s right to carry a concealed gun, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a request with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing en banc, specifically asking that the entire 7th Circuit reconsider the decision. The 7th Circuit rejected Attorney General Madigan’s request and Ms. Madigan did not appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
Under the law passed by the Legislature, the Illinois State Police have 180 days to organize a program to process applications for concealed carry permits and an additional 90 days in which to get all application forms processed. In order to obtain a permit, an applicant must:
- Possess a Firearm Owner’s Identification card;
- Have passed a background check;
- Have undergone a gun-safety training program of at least sixteen (16) hours; and
- Paid a fee of $150.00.
Although the State of Illinois now has enacted legislation that dictates the provisions for being permitted to carry a concealed gun and this law is far less restrictive than similar laws in other states, including New York where law enforcement personnel have the discretion to deny permits, gun rights advocates are not happy yet. These advocates believe that the nine (9) months that it will take for the first applicants to obtain their carry permits is a continuation of the unconstitutional ban on carrying concealed guns. Therefore, Mary Shepard, whose lawsuit was the impetus behind the Illinois concealed carry law, has gone back to federal court to force an immediate issuance of the permits. Some local governments are in agreement with this position and have announced that they will not prosecute those local citizens who are discovered with a concealed gun. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a motion to dismiss Ms. Shepard’s case as moot because the requisite legislation has been enacted. Now, it is a matter of waiting to see whether the courts will give Illinois law enforcement a little time to get an effective system in place. This will greatly affect those facing Chicago gun charges.