Jul 16

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed off on a bill that takes aim at repeat gun offenders, according to an article by Reuters. This bill increases the minimum sentences for repeat firearm offenses under the Illinois rules governing unlawful use of weapons.

Passed as SB1722, this bill is also referred to as the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act (SNRA). In addition to adjustments to gun laws, the SNRA also allows the Director of State Police to create the Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force. This task force is “dedicated to combating gun violence, gun-trafficking, and other violent crime” across Illinois.

As reported by Reuters, the SNRA will increase the minimum sentence for repeat firearm convictions from three to seven years. In order to hand out a more lenient sentence, judges will now have to submit their justification in writing. As one of the chief supporters of the SNRA, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson believes this initiative “will make someone think twice about picking up a gun before they ever use it.”

Considering the implications of this news story, we should review Illinois firearm laws concerning unlawful use of weapons.

What is Unlawful Use of a Weapon?

The Illinois Criminal Code addresses firearm use in 720 ILCS 5/24-1, as part of the doctrine governing unlawful use of a weapon. Generally speaking, it is not legal to carry a firearm in public in Illinois. There is a specific prohibition on carrying firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol as well as certain public gatherings. Additionally, 720 ILCS 5/24-1 prohibits machine guns, tear gas, explosive bullets and sound suppressors, among other restrictions.

That being said, Illinois laws do carve out exceptions for statewide programs concerning Firearm Owner’s Identification and Concealed Carry. Individuals with valid firearms licenses are exempt from certain Illinois gun laws. Those individuals are free to carry firearms in accordance with program regulations.

Having covered the basics of unlawful weapon use, it is also important to note that the Illinois Criminal Code has separate rules concerning aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. As laid out in 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon takes into consideration additional factors, including but not limited to concealed carry, body armor, and previous convictions. An initial offense qualifies as a Class 4 felony, but the charge can rise to the level of a Class 2 felony for repeat offenses.

Do You Need Legal Advice?

No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal charges are serious. Without a sound strategy and an aggressive defense, you could miss out on your best chance for a positive outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law and navigate toward an effective resolution.

Serving the counties of Dewitt, Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford, The Prior Law Firm is located in Bloomington, Illinois. Our attorneys are dedicated to the practice of Illinois criminal law. If you need legal advice concerning any criminal offense, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately.

You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or online by completing a simple form.

(image courtesy of Alex Iby)