Potential Pitfalls of Concealed Carry in Illinois
Generally speaking, if a person possesses an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID), he or she may own a firearm, as long as it complies with all other relevant Illinois laws. If that person also holds a valid concealed carry permit, he or she may then carry their weapon in that manner. However, many gun owners make the error of believing that they may carry their weapon anywhere and with very little restriction. This is emphatically not the case, and in fact, bringing a firearm into a location where firearms are banned—either carried openly or concealed—can result in weapons charges that carry serious penalties. Gun owners should be aware of their rights and how far they extend.
Concealed Carry Vs. Total Ban
It is not uncommon for a person to believe that when a certain location professes to ban firearms, they merely mean open carry. In reality, if a private business or public entity decides to prohibit guns and other firearms, this also applies to concealed carry license holders unless it specifically excludes concealed carry from the ban. Most private-sector bans do not, however, apply to weapons that are broken down or otherwise in a non-functional state, such as when they are being transported in an appropriate and legal manner.
Illinois law does, however, detail certain locations where firearms are statutorily prohibited, even if they are concealed and the owner holds the appropriate permit or if the firearm is non-functional. The list includes, among many others, courthouses, schools, medical facilities, and public transportation or system stations. One might assume that if they concealed carry, they may not be discovered as possessing a firearm, but the price for risking exposure can be prohibitive. In short, a concealed carry permit is not a license to carry a firearm anywhere one pleases, and too many take it as such.
While most people are familiar with the potential consequences associated with the unlawful use of a weapon, many are shocked to discover there may be serious penalties incurred for mere carrying. Possession of a firearm in any of the zones where they have been banned is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense, and if there is a second, it may then be charged as a Class 3 felony, which carries a maximum of 5 years in prison. Possessing a specific type of firearm, such as a machine gun or a sawed-off shotgun, may carry more time, depending on the specific nature of the offense.
One rather unique law that Illinois strictly observes is that if a person is in possession of any kind of firearm while robed, masked or are otherwise wearing any item that could conceal his or her their identity, he or she may be charged with a Class 4 felony. The rationale for such a law is to remove one layer of protection from those who would seek to commit armed crimes, though it has also been used as an effective tool in prosecutions which might qualify as hate crimes. For example, groups like the Ku Klux Klan historically donned hoods to mask their identity, and this law can provide an avenue for prosecution against a person who might otherwise escape justice.
Ask an Experienced Weapons Law Attorney
While gun ownership is a right that Illinois residents enjoy, it does not come without restrictions or responsibilities. If you have questions about your right to concealed carry or about firearm possession in general, contact and experienced Joliet weapons law attorney for answers. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.