Weapons Charges Take Center Stage in Illinois News as Lawmakers Consider Firearms Legislation

Several news stories regarding weapons charges in Illinois have popped up in the last week, highlighting both the conduct of offenders and the activities of lawmakers to crack down on gun-related crime. While lawmakers contemplate establishing harsher sentences for gun-law violators, an Illinois student faces serious charges for gun-related felony crimes.

According to abclocal.go.com, a Northern Illinois University student from suburban Chicago was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a stored weapon after authorities found major firepower in his university dorm room. A mail worker called police to alert them of student Kevin Ouwenga after she came across a package in the mail addressed to him and containing gun parts. University police went to Mr. Ouwenga’s room, where they turned up a disassembled AR-15 rifle and a handgun. The university police also found ammunition for those weapons in Mr. Ouwenga’s room.

Needless to say, Northern Illinois University does not permit firearms on campus property. Mr. Ouwenga’s case is now pending before the Dekalb County Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, in Springfield, the Illinois legislature is wrestling with their own firearms issues. Abclocal.go.com also reports that lawmakers are playing a tug-of-war over proposed legislation that would create harsher penalties for weapons law offenders. Last week, The Black Caucus, which is made up of African-American lawmakers, used a parliamentary procedure to delay a bill that would set more severe mandatory minimum sentences for those who are convicted of illegally possessing guns.

According to the report, the new legislation is supported by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as a slew of other individuals key to the Illinois criminal justice system. Such individuals include Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. The legislation found support in Harrisburg legislator Brandon Phelps, but only after its sponsors agreed to drop provisions that would require even first-time offenders to serve out 85 percent of a minimum three year term of imprisonment.

Those who have halted the bill’s progress note that they are pushing for a more comprehensive piece of legislation. These lawmakers want the legislation to include items such as funding for rehabilitation programs. They are also concerned with the scope of the legislation, and believe that it may negatively impact those who are innocent. Ultimately, the Black Caucus is firm in its position that the legislature engage in a longer and more fruitful debate about the proposed measures.

While the fate of gun control legislation in Illinois is uncertain, it is still clear that existing criminal laws regarding unlawful use or possession of weapons are seriously prosecuted in Illinois. Gun laws in Illinois are complex and often changing, and only those experienced in the law can fully understand the ramifications of violating them.

If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can review the facts of your case and the charges against you, and may be able to defend you in court. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.

Practice Areas

Our Blog