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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
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 Illinois criminal lawyerIllinois is a state that is very concerned with the appropriate regulation of firearms, having been the last state to legalize concealed carry and often making revisions to the relevant laws to increase safety. Because of this, the penalties for even a first firearms offense can be extremely severe. If you are charged with a firearms violation, it is imperative that you understand the nature of the allegations against you so that you can react accordingly.

FOID Cards and Concealed Carry Licenses

An Illinois gun license is known as a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, and one must possess one in order to lawfully own a gun. To obtain one, a person must submit an application to the Illinois State Police and show that they meet the relevant criteria (or do not - for example, no one who has been convicted of certain crimes of violence or been found mentally incompetent within the preceding five years may hold a FOID card). It is important to keep in mind that a FOID card is not the same as a concealed carry license, though it is a prerequisite to obtaining one. In other words, the mere possession of a FOID card does not allow you to concealed carry in Illinois.

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concealed carry, concealed carry law, Illinois Defense LawyerNearly two years ago, the Illinois became the last state in the country to enact a concealed carry law, which permits appropriately licensed residents to carry a concealed firearm within the state. Enacted in 2013 and taking effect in 2014, the legislation is known as Firearm Concealed Carry Act and supporters insist the law simply recognized rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. To members of law enforcement organizations, however, the Act created a whole new set of challenges, which include conducting traffic stops of legally armed Illinois citizens.

Even as the legislation was being drafted and reviewed, law enforcement officials looked ahead to potential dangers. They pointed out that any interaction with an individual legally carrying a concealed firearm would carry an increased risk of escalation simply to due the existence and proximity of the weapon. Kevin McClain, director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, acknowledged at the time, however, that law-abiding citizens may just be exercising their Second Amendment right, and that police officers need to be “a little more savvy in approaching someone” so a mutual level of respect can be maintained.

One of the provisions that law enforcement officials were hoping to get included in the concealed carry law was a requirement for legally carrying individuals to announce their permit status during a traffic stop. To the disappointment of some, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the provision was not enacted in the law. “It was something that we felt strongly about collectively that would help,” Dart said.

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concealed-carry-illinoisIllinois is well-known for some of the strictest gun-control regimes in the country. Being the last state in the U.S. to enact concealed carry laws created a fear of widespread weapon proliferation and increased street violence. Officials issued nearly 100,000 permits in 2014, after a thorough investigation of applicants’ histories and fingerprint scans. Though critics question the correlation between concealed carry rights and decreasing violent crime rates in Illinois, the latter has been proven true in 2014. Whether coincidence or not, crime rates are dropping throughout Illinois.

Concealed Carry Permits

One reason to question the connection between concealed carry rights and lower crime rates is due to the fact that many criminals do not lawfully possess their weapons in the first place. One Illinois police sergeant pointed out that “[w]hen you’re talking concealed-carry, it’s mostly your law-abiding citizens, who don’t cause problems anyway.” Thus, many of the weapons involved in investigated crimes are either borrowed, stolen, or from a black market, making tracking the ownership of the weapon difficult if not impossible.

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