PEORIA — Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady publically announced last week that he would not prosecute anyone that is caught carrying a firearm outside of their home in Peoria County, if that person is legally allowed to possess the firearm.
Since the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared that Illinois’ ban on carrying firearms in public was unconstitutional — because it violated the Second Amendment of the right to keep and bear arms — on Dec. 11, 2012, Brady has not prosecuted Peoria County residents that possessed a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card, who were arrested for carrying a weapon in public.
“That portion (unlawful use of weapons section) that deals with unloaded guns, either in cars or on public streets, as well as the aggravated unlawful use of weapons section that deals with loaded weapons on public streets or in cars — those have been found to be unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit,” said Brady. “As a result of that finding, we are not prosecuting, nor have we been. The opinion came down on Dec. 11 of 2012, and since that time, we have not been prosecuting those sections.”
On June 18, Brady met with Peoria County Sheriff Michael McCoy and several other law enforcement officials in Peoria County to discuss the “Carry Conceal” attitude of Peoria County.
During that meeting, police officials in Peoria, Peoria Heights, Bartonville and Peoria County all said they would not arrest individuals for concealed weapons that are legally possessed, under most circumstances.
“They simply discussed the opinion and we were all in agreement as to not arresting folks who in the past would have violated those two sections in the statute,” said Brady.
One day following the meeting, McCoy released an informational bulletin that outlines “the official position of the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office that is based on the opinion of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that has ruled portions of the Illinois law to be unconstitutional, as they relate to carrying a firearm.”
The informational bulletin states: Pending any modifications by a new state law governing these matters, the simple carrying of a firearm in a public place, whether loaded or unloaded (including a vehicle), by an Illinois resident who possesses a valid FOID card is no longer a prohibited act and officers are not to make arrests under these circumstances. Additionally, since an out-of-state resident has no FOID requirement, they may also carry a firearm in Illinois, similarly to a FOID carrying resident.
Brady will continue to prosecute people that possess a firearm and don’t have a FOID card; possess a firearm and are under the age of 18; possess a firearm and are convicted felons; possess a firearm and are a patient of a mental health facility; possess a firearm prohibited by the National Firearms Act, such as machine guns, sawed-off rifles/shotguns, etc.; possess non-firearm weapons, such as throwing stars, switchblades, etc.; possess a firearm in a tavern, licensed public gathering, places where admission is charged, etc.; and possess a firearm while concealing their identity.
Brady is unaware if the Illinois State Police will arrest people in Peoria County that possess a firearm and a FOID card.
“The state police — since they’re statewide, their jurisdiction is statewide, and it is my understanding that there’s not real clarity on what the state police are going to do,” said Brady. “However, if there’s an arrest made, it won’t be prosecuted in Peoria County.”
On Dec. 11, 2012, the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals gave the Illinois legislature 180 days, until June 9, to create a new gun law that would allow state residents to carry concealed firearms in public. When the Illinois General Assembly didn’t send Illinois Governor Pat Quinn a concealed carry bill, House Bill 183, until June 4, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan convinced the appellate court to extend the deadline by a month.
If Quinn doesn’t sign or veto HB 183 by July 9, it will become law on August 3 because the Illinois state constitution gives the governor 60 days from the time the bill is presented to him before it automatically becomes state law.
According to the bill, Illinois residents must obtain a license before they can legally carry a concealed firearm in public. In order to obtain a license, Illinois residents must possess a valid FOID card; be at least 21 years of age; have no convictions of violent misdemeanors within the last five year; and have no more than two DUI convictions within the last five years. License applicants must also complete 16 hours of firearms training — the most required by any state — submit fingerprints, pass a background check, and pay a $150 fee. Licenses will be valid for five years.
Madigan has until July 22 to decide whether to appeal the appellate court’s Dec. 11, 2012 ruling.
Illinois is the only state in the country that doesn’t allow its residents to carry concealed firearms in public.