There is little question that gun laws in Illinois are still among the toughest in the nation. While it may not be evident based on the amount of gun violence reported on the streets of Chicago and other Illinois cities, the reality is that the illegal possession or use of a firearm can lead to severe criminal penalties. In addition, a conviction on weapons charges could follow an individual for the rest of his or her life.
Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID)
To legally own a firearm in the state, an individual must apply for a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card through the Illinois State Police (ISP). The ISP has the authority to review all applications, and if the applicant meets the qualifications provided by law—which include age, residency, mental health, criminal background, and drug use criteria—the State Police will issue him or her a FOID. A valid FOID is also required for most gun transactions as well.
Concealed Carry License
Those who wish to carry a concealed weapon are required to obtain an additional certification from the ISP known as a Concealed Carry License, or CCL. To qualify for a CCL, the applicant must have a FOID and still meet the requirements for obtaining one. He or she must:
- Not have a conviction on his or her record of a violent misdemeanor in the last five years;
- Not have two or more convictions for driving under the influences of drugs or alcohol in the last five years;
- Not the be subject of an arrest warrant, prosecution, or other legal proceedings that could disqualify him or her from owning a firearm;
- Not have received residential or court-ordered substance abuse treatment in the last five years; and
- Complete the necessary weapons training required by the law.
What Does “Shall Issue” Mean?
The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act states, “The Department [of State Police] shall issue a license to carry a concealed firearm under this Act to an applicant who:” [emphasis added]
- Meets the application criteria;
- Submits all of the required paperwork;
- Pays the necessary fees; and
- Does not pose a danger to himself, herself, or others, or to general public safety.
The phrase “shall issue” is an important one, as it specifically directs the ISP to issue a CCL to any applicant that qualifies. Such laws in certain other states are phrased as “may issue,” which gives the licensing agency wider discretion regarding whether or not to approve an applicant’s license. The language in the Illinois statute also gives denied applicants a stronger basis for appealing a rejection. Law enforcement agencies can still raise objections regarding whether a person presents a danger, but if an applicant meets all the necessary conditions, he or she must be granted a CCL according to the law.
Facing Weapons Charges?
If you have been charged with the illegal possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed firearm in a prohibited location, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba for a free consultation today.