Can I be Prosecuted for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Illinois?
Illinois is at the center of a heated national debate about gun control right now. This is largely because the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit has permanently enjoined the State from enforcing its ban on concealed carry of firearms as unconstitutional. The Court has given the state a deadline for which to craft a new law for carrying guns in public. See Moore v. Madigan.
In response, the Illinois Legislature voted to allow concealed carry of firearms for qualified applicants last month. However, the Governor has yet to sign the bill into law and has asked for a second and final extension of the deadline imposed by the Court for which to rectify its current gap in the gun-control law.
The New Law
The Concealed Carry Act would allow citizens of Illinois to carry a concealed weapon if they meet the following criteria:
- Is at least 21 years of age;
- Has a current valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, or meets the requirements for one and is not otherwise prohibited to obtain one;
- Has not been convicted or found guilty of certain crimes, including:
- A misdemeanor involving violence or threat of force within the last 5 years; or
- 2 or more DUI violations within the last 5 years
- Does not have a pending arrest warrant, prosecution, or other proceeding that could lead to disqualification to own or possess a firearm;
- Has not been in court-ordered or residential drug or alcohol treatment within the last 5 year; and
- Has completed the required firearms training and education to obtain the concealed carry permit.
Since the above law has not yet been signed into law, counties may not know how to proceed in the face of conduct that previously violated the law. Some county prosecutors are refusing to prosecute would-be violations of state law and essentially permit residents to carry concealed weapons for self-defense. Some commentators note that it is within the discretion of the local prosecutor to decide which cases it will prosecute, while others are criticizing the permission as law making.
The law is certainly in a gray area right now. On one hand, the federal court has tied the State’s hands by not allowing it to enforce its unconstitutional gun law prohibiting carrying a gun for personal self-defense. On the other, without a law defining what conduct is allowed and what conduct is illegal makes it really hard for citizens to know what they can and can’t do.
As it stands right now, the Governor can either sign the Bill into law or veto it in its entirety. If the Governor chooses to veto the Bill, the Legislature could reconvene and override the Governor’s decision by a 2/3 vote. Either way, however, a law must be crafted to comply with the Court’s mandate to come up with a law that does not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In this uncertain time, please contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney for representation and counsel.