Illinois Supreme Court Shoots Down 1,000-Foot Gun Ban Near Parks
A February 2018 ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court has declared one of the state’s gun laws unconstitutional. The law in question appears in Chapter 720, Article 24, of the Illinois Criminal Code. Under this law, carrying a firearm on a public street without a concealed carry permit is designated a Class A misdemeanor. However, Article 24-1(c) upgrades the charge to a Class 3 felony if the firearm possession is on any public way within 1,000 feet of a public park.
For perspective, 1,000 feet is roughly equivalent to the length of a city block.
The court ruled that the 1,000-foot ban violates the Second Amendment because it places a “severe burden on the recognized second amendment right of self-defense.” The court’s ruling effectively strikes out the “within 1,000 feet of a public park” provision.
This Supreme Court decision also vacated the 2013 conviction of the appellant, Julio Chairez, who had pled guilty to possession of a gun near Aurora’s Virgil Gilman Trail park. Chairez had been sentenced to two years’ probation by the Kane County Circuit Court.
In writing the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier said the law was too broad. People living near parks could potentially be charged with committing a felony just for walking from their street-parked car to their house with a firearm. “This requirement…renders the ability to defend oneself inoperable and is in direct contradiction to this court’s (earlier) decisions…, which recognized that the right to carry firearms for self-defense may be especially important when traveling outside of the home,” the ruling said. “The most troubling aspect [of the law] is the lack of any notification where the 1,000-foot restriction zone starts and where it would end.”
The Supreme Court also decided that the State did not provide a valid “public safety” argument in support of a firearm exclusion zone around parks. “Without specific data or other meaningful evidence, we see no direct correlation between the information the State provides and its assertion that a 1,000-foot firearm ban around a public park protects children, as well as other vulnerable persons, from firearm violence,” the court’s opinion stated.
The case on appeal only dealt with the issue of public parks, so the court did not address the statute’s 1,000-foot restriction areas around schools, courthouses, public transportation facilities, and public housing sites. It remains to be seen, in some future case, whether those other 1,000-foot rules will hold up under appellate court scrutiny.
Get the Best Defense with a Will County Firearms Defense Lawyer
Illinois has some of the strictest and most confusing gun laws in the nation. If you have run afoul of Illinois firearms regulations, you need an attorney experienced in firearms law to defend you. Contact a knowledgeable Joliet criminal defense lawyer for a free and confidential consultation. Call Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025; calls are responded to 24 hours a day.