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Illinois Supreme Court Rules Gun Law Unconstitutional

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled part of the state's gun laws unconstitutional on Thursday, following the lead of the Seventh Circuit's 2012 decision.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois' High Court ruled that prosecutors must abide by the Seventh Circuit's decision and stop prosecuting any cases in which defendants were charged for merely carrying a weapon in public.

This may only affect a small number of cases, but Illinois gun owners are now a bit more certain of their rights.

Illinois Public Firearm Laws

In December 2012, the Seventh Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the Illinois ban on carrying a weapon in public was unconstitutional.

The Seventh Circuit expanded on vanguard cases like Heller by proclaiming that the Second Amendment's interest of self-preservation extended outside a person's home, making the ability to carry a weapon outside one's house a matter of life and death.

The law had contained exceptions for law enforcement and hunting, but the Seventh Circuit's ruling gave the state until July 2013 to carve out a new law providing for citizens to carry firearms in public.

And they did ... but the state has until January 2014 to prepare to issue actual permits for residents to carry weapons in public. So at the moment, no legal permits have been issued to anyone in Illinois, regardless of whether they possess a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card, reports the Tribune.

So despite the Seventh Circuit's intervention, the entire state is still waiting with bated breath to carry a gun in public.

Overturned Convictions

And then there's the small matter of those persons who were prosecuted under Illinois' old aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) statute.

Alberto Aguilar was one of those persons, and the centerpiece of the Illinois Supreme Court's decision in Illinois v. Aguilar, in which the state's high court ruled that his conviction for carrying the gun in public view violated Aguilar's Second Amendment rights.

Ironically Aguilar was also 17-years-old at the time of his arrest, so the Court upheld his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. Illinois may not be able to ban public carrying of firearms, but the Second Amendment does not bar any state from regulating gun use/possession by minors (see Heller).

Bottom Line

Illinois' Supreme Court affirmed what the Seventh Circuit told them a year ago: the old public carrying laws are unconstitutional. However, as Aguilar learned, the state is not without recourse when it comes to regulating guns and minors.

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