House Bill 2265, sponsored by state Representative Michael Zalewski (D-23), is poised to create and impose harsh mandatory minimum felony penalties ranging from three to ten years in prison for those who carry a firearm without a Concealed Carry License (CCL) or possess a firearm without a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). This specific provision incorrectly targets otherwise law-abiding citizens, rather than deterring violent criminals with harsher penalties.
In the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent opinion in People v. Aguilar, the court unanimously held that the state's "comprehensive ban" on the "use of an operable firearm for self-defense outside the home" is invalid under the Second Amendment, reaffirming that it is a fundamental right for an individual to possess a firearm for self-defense. However, state law requires that individuals obtain a CCL, which will be available after January 1, 2014, in order to exercise this right.
While HB 2265 would also increase penalties for those who misuse firearms in criminal acts, the provision that targets simply possessing or carrying a firearm is very problematic because it could cause otherwise law-abiding citizens to face serious penalties for an innocuous mistake and a “victimless crime.” For example, if passed and enacted into law, HB 2265 could subject a new Illinois resident carrying a firearm for self-defense who may be unfamiliar with the state’s strict gun control laws to an overly harsh multi-year prison sentence.
HB 2265 is expected to move in the upcoming veto session of the state legislature starting on October 22. Please contact your state Senator and Representative and politely urge them to focus on meaningful reforms that will deter violent criminals, rather than futile measures that will have no effect on crime and may place otherwise law-abiding citizens at risk. Contact information for your state legislators can be found here.
Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you informed on this and other pending issues before the Illinois General Assembly.