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Downers Grove weapons charges defense lawyerFirearm safety and gun laws are hot-button topics in America due to the high number of shootings that have occurred over the last couple of decades. Though many are advocating for the tightening of gun regulations across the nation, it is difficult to accomplish this when gun laws differ so significantly from state to state and situation to situation. Firearm owners should be sure to understand their gun rights as an Illinois resident or non-resident in order to avoid the possibility of facing weapons charges

Resident Rights

Obtaining the ability to legally carry and use a gun in Illinois is a fairly lengthy process. Residents planning to own firearms must acquire a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. This is issued by the Illinois State Police after completing the application process and a required course. After receiving a FOID card and purchasing a gun, there is a 72-hour waiting period in order to earn possession of the firearm. 

Having a FOID card does not allow Illinois residents to walk around public areas while carrying guns. A concealed carry license is necessary in the state of Illinois. This is another process that requires the completion of a 16-hour training course. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. After obtaining a concealed carry license, Illinois residents must abide by the following regulations:

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Illinois drug possessionCity of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently pitched a controversial idea to help open up prison space for violent offenders and to allow non-violent offenders a chance at a productive life. The pitch is, objectively, a trade-off. Mayor Emanuel is prepared to lessen Illinois drug possession laws in exchange for tougher gun control laws. Not only has Emanuel committed to decriminalizing marijuana, but his plan would also reduce minor drug possession charges to misdemeanors, which have lesser sentences than felonies. “Minor” drug possession would be considered less than one gram of any controlled substance. Anything over that amount would still be considered a felony. This would be an expansion on a marijuana ticketing bill introduced in Chicago in 2012.

The Pros

Proponents backing Mayor Emanuel’s plan point to a reduction in prison population. A significant portion of Illinois jails are filled with non-violent drug offenders. The rationale is that this legislation would free up jail space for violent criminals and allow police officers an opportunity to focus on violent crime in our streets. Mayor Emanuel openly reminded the public how “[a] felony conviction can make it harder to go to school, apply for financial aid and find housing. There are times when a felony conviction is no doubt warranted, but we have to ask ourselves whether it’s too high a price to using drugs.” This resonates with anyone who has had to face the wrath of society after making one mistake in their past.

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Illinois concealed carryIn July 2013, Illinois legislators enacted a conceal and carry law which, as its name suggests, allows Illinois residents to conceal and carry certain automatic weapons. The law made national news because Illinois was the last state in the country to enact such a law.

When the online application for a conceal and carry permit became active, 11,000 Illinois residents applied. Of these applications, several were denied, and at least 200 individuals have brought their objections to state court. Many rejected permit applicants want to appeal the denials because the applicants believe they were unfairly deemed a threat to public safety and consequently should not have been denied a permit.

Police Department Responds

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Illinois gun law, Illinois concealed carry, gun laws, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn July 2013, the Illinois state legislature passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, which came into effect in early 2014. This law created a system by which the Illinois State Police may issue concealed carry gun permits to individuals who are at least 21 years old; have a valid FOID card; have not been convicted or found guilty in Illinois or any other state of:(A) a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of physical force or violence to any person within the 5 years preceding the date of the license application; or(B) 2 or more violations related to driving while under the influence within the 5 years preceding the date of the license application; who do not have an outstanding arrest warrant or pending a criminal case; and who have not been in residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug treatment within the 5 years immediately preceding the license application.    Those wishing to obtain permits must attend 16 hours of class to train and be prepared for the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon.

Prior to the enactment of this law, if you were found with a concealed weapon on your person or in your glove compartment of your car, you could be charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, even though you were not actually using the weapon.

As of January 5, 2014, the state police began accepting concealed carry permit applications, and on February 28, 2014, the police started to issue these permits. The conceal carry license specifically allows you to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm, fully concealed or partially concealed, on or about your person; and to keep a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm on or about your person within your vehicle.

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