The state of Illinois cannot be said to be a ‘firearm friendly’ state by any stretch of the imagination. However, in a recent unanimous ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a state law that seemed designed to be a “categorical prohibition” for the state to abuse.
The law said, in essence, that carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of a number of public places was a crime. Using this law, Julio Chairez was arrested and charged in Aurora, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) with a Class 3 Felony. By appealing his case to the state Supreme Court, he scored a great win for anyone concerned with their Second Amendment rights in the state of Illinois.
The case of People v. Chairez was appealed all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court because though Julio Chairez did not contend that he had broken the state’s laws concerning firearms near parks (and a host of other locations), he contended that the law was wildly unconstitutional.
Apparently, the entirety of the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with him.
This particular law barred firearm owners from bringing their firearm within 1,000 feet of numerous places. The list included parks, schools, courthouses, public housing, public transportation facilities, and more.
Due to the law’s design, and the density of parts of Illinois (such as Chicago and its suburbs), it was scarcely possible for a legal gun owner to traverse the city or go for a walk without constantly violating the law.
In his appeal, Chairez’s attorneys argued that these ‘exclusion zones’ were firearms were not allowed amounted to what was, in effect, a blanket ban on carrying guns in public in most of Chicago.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned an actual blanket ban on carrying firearms in 2012, and this de facto ban was the state of Illinois’ response to not being able to deny people the right to carry firearms for self-defense.
The state of Illinois did not let their terrible last attempt at denying people the right to carry a firearm go without a fight, however.
In front of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the state of Illinois’ representatives argued that the Supreme Court had allowed reasonable laws concerning “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
Indeed, the Supreme Court HAS made allowances in the past for localities to bear arms from being carried in certain public locations. However, these allowances do not extend past the property line, and they certainly don’t extend a thousand feet in any direction past the property line.
According to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in an earlier judgment, the state of Illinois’ law created a burden on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In their ruling, the court said that such a burden can only be constitutionally viable if the state can point to an “extremely strong” public-interest reason behind the burden.
Further, the state has to be able to prove that there is a “close fit” between its ends and its means, which the state of Illinois failed to do.
The Seventh Circuit Court stated the Illinois government failed to provide any sort of evidence that their law had any impact on the “risk it identifies.” The ‘risk’ the law ‘identified’ was that carrying firearms would be a ‘risk’ to children and other individuals in parks and other listed areas.
However, the state did little more than speculate that this was the case and provided no evidence that their law did anything to curb firearm violence around the state’s parks.
According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the rule made it ‘legally perilous’ to carry a firearm anywhere in the state. Among other problems, there was, and is, no way for Illinois citizens to know if they were going into an ‘exclusionary’ zone.
It is obvious to the casual observer that this law was designed by the state of Illinois not to improve its dreadful crime statistics, and not to improve the city of Chicago’s absurdly high incidence of shootings, but rather to inhibit legal gun owners.
It was cheap, and it was a last-ditch attempt by a state that has a terrible record on respecting the Second Amendment.
And thanks to the Illinois Supreme Court, and to Julio Chairez, the state has just lost another of their dishonest tools for denying people their right to keep and bear arms.
Illinois may never be a state with firearm regulations as those of the state of Indiana, immediately to its south. However, every small improvement is cause for celebration and rejoicing.