The Process Of Purchasing And Carrying A Weapon In Illinois

Interviewer: What is the process that people have to make in order to firstly purchase a weapon and then, secondly carry a concealed weapon?

Jerald Novak: Illinois is the very gun unfriendly state.  In order to even going to a gun shop and handle a firearm of any type, you need to have an F-O-I-D card, which stands for Firearm Owner’s Identification Card.  It’s really poorly named because let’s say you don’t own a firearm but you have to have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. So, just to walk in the gun shop and touch a fire arm, you have to have that FOID card first.  To get the FOID card, you simply apply to the online state police and they’ll have a one page form and you send them the photograph and they run your criminal background check.  I believe it’s $10 and it’s good for 10 years.  It’s the only bargain in the Illinois.

An Individual Needs an FOID Card Before they Can Touch a Gun or a Firearm in Illinois

It’s not a bargain because other states don’t even require it, so comparatively speaking, it’s a complete waste of 10 bucks but in any case, you need to have the FOID card before you can even touch a gun or go into a range and shoot or anything that has anything to do with a firearm in Illinois. Once you’ve obtained your FOID card, if you wish to purchase the firearm, you can do so but the FOID card only allows you to purchase the firearm.  You can possess the firearm in your home, you can possess the firearm in your business, you can transport the firearm.  However, it has to be in a case so you can take it to, for example, the range and you can shoot it at the range if you can display your FOID card.

A Case May be Defined as an Object that Completely Encloses the Firearm

It’s interesting though because the question of what is a case arises all the time.  A case previously was some type of hard object that completely enclosed the firearm.  The Illinois Supreme Court has recently come down with a couple of cases that says, “A case does not necessarily have to be hard”, so it can now be in a zipper compartment or a purse, purse is considered a case, or believe it or not, another case came down from the Illinois Supreme Court that says a glove compartment and/or a center console are now considered cases. So, the definition of case is evolved quite a bit over the years.  In the past, if you’re stopped by law enforcement and for any reason, they did search your car and found a firearm in your glove compartment or your center console, you’d be arrested for possessing a concealed firearm.  Now, the Illinois Supreme Court says that’s perfectly acceptable.

The Procedure to Obtain an Illinois Concealed Carry License Includes 16 Hours of Firearm Training

The point here is that you must keep up on the statute because what one day is legal may tomorrow be illegal and of course vice versa. If you wish to carry the fire arm on your person, then you need to get an Illinois Concealed Carry License. The procedure to obtain such a license is to participate in 16-hours of firearm training.  The first 8 hours consist of firearm skills such as grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, breath control, cleaning a pistol so forth, most of the mechanical skills that have to do with the operation of the pistol or revolver. The second 8 hours consist of a law lecture that would consist of covering the FOID Act, Firearms Owner’s Identification Card Act, as well as the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Act.  And the important thing about those two acts, again combined with the federal act that has to do with possession and transportation of firearms.

There are 23 Prohibited Places Where an Individual Cannot Carry Firearms in Illinois

The important thing about that is that you will learn about the 23 prohibited places whereby you cannot carry a firearm, which of course are the 23 places you’re obviously and most likely to get into trouble. Illinois has gone out of their way to comply with the federal law to allow you to carry, Illinois being the 50th state to allow concealed carry, however they have made it the most difficult in order to carry.  So, for example, any business that doesn’t want you to possess firearm in their location, all they need to do is put a sticker on the window 4 inches x 6 inches, it’s white, it’s a black image of a pistol with a red circle and a red slash, so you cannot bring a firearm into that establishment. That seems pretty simple but the law also says that the sticker must be placed conspicuously on the door.  I’ve seen businesses that have that sticker and they put it far to the top left or far to the top right, if they can, or to the far corner bottom of the right or left side.  Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see those stickers.

Stickers Prohibiting Possession of Firearms May be Completely Invisible from the Outside

I’ve even had instances where from the outside, those stickers were completely invisible and only once you’re in the establishment and you happen to look out the window, it’ll become apparent that they had such a sticker as it was absolutely invisible from the outside.  Of course that puts you in a problem because you’re already in the establishment and you’re erratically already possessing a pistol or revolver. At that point, you got to get out of dodge and secure your firearm in your car or some other safe place.  So, it makes it very, very easy for businesses to keep you out. Then, there is a plethora of places where it’s prohibited, so for example, no police stations, no government buildings, no hospitals, no places and they don’t say bars, and they never say in the statute no bars but they say no places whose revenues exceed 50 per cent from the sale of alcoholic beverages within the last 3 months.  Well, that’s kind of crazy if you think about that.

It is Illegal to Possess Firearms when Riding on Forms of Public Transportation like Busses or Trains in Illinois

If you walk into a TGI Fridays and there’s no sticker on the window, should you bring your CPA with you and perform and audit of their books to know whether TGI Fridays makes 50 per cent or more of the revenues in the past 3 months from the sales of alcoholic beverages, to know whether you’re legal or not legal to carry the firearm into that restaurant, that’s crazy. The problem is that they put the burden on the licensee, which means they arrest first and they investigate later.  So, you have to be very, very careful when carrying.  You cannot carry on public transportation.  So, last time I checked here in Chicago or in the Cook County area, what they call the “L”, which stands for the elevated train and we also have the RTA, Regional Transportation Authority, which is in-charge of the busses.  We also have the Metro which is a computer train line and you cannot carry your firearm in one of those forms of public transportation.

It is Also Illegal to Carry a Firearm or a Weapon in Cook County Forest Preserves

But last time, I checked that’s exactly where people are getting robbed, raped and murdered.  So, it sends a message to the criminals that this is a criminal safe zone.  It’s okay to continue doing business as usual because the law abiding citizens are not going to be armed.  More craziness, you cannot carry a firearm in the Cook County forest preserves.  However, you can carry a firearm in any other forest preserve in any other country throughout Illinois.  Do they have special trees in Cook County?  I don’t think so. It’s really become a political hot potato as to which jurisdictions can influence the legislator to get special privileges or special limitations imposed to prevent concealed carry holders from being able to carry.  It goes on and on, you can’t carry it in school, you can’t carry within a 1,000 feet of a school, you can’t carry in any courthouses or government agencies, any government agency.  So, for example, if your car gets towed away and you go to retrieve it from impound, you can’t have a firearm there.

In Illinois State, it is Prohibited to Carry a Firearm in Any Place of Entertainment

I understand you don’t want to carry a gun into the courthouse, there are people there that are accused of serious crimes; it really makes sense.  But if I’m going to get my car out of impound because I didn’t pay a parking ticket or two, I can’t carry my firearm – or for whatever reason that my car may be there. There is also a prohibition about carrying a firearm in any place of entertainment or what they refer to as an entertainment venue; or what is an entertainment venue?  They don’t define it.  So, if you go to the movies, is that an entertainment venue; probably.  If you go to a play, is that an entertainment venue; probably.  If you go to a concert, is that an entertainment venue; probably. They make no distinction between a free performance and a paid performance.  So, if I’m walking down the street and there’s a street performer and there’s a bunch of people who are gathered around him, have I just become part of an entertainment venue?  I don’t know because the statute is silent.

A Safe Haven is Where a Person Can Bring a Firearm but Must Leave it in the Vehicle

The law was very poorly written and on top of that, it was practically not defined at all.  Additionally, they have put on some what they call safe havens.  A safe haven is where you can bring a firearm to some place that is prohibited but you must leave the firearm in your vehicle. So, for example, if you’ve got a pistol or revolver concealed on your person and you got your FOID card and your Illinois Concealed Carry License and you have to go to court for, let’s say, a traffic ticket, you can possess that firearm with you up to the courthouse parking lot.  However, you’re required to leave that firearm in the vehicle, and that makes sense. Now, they do give you one opportunity to exit the vehicle with that firearm to place it in your trunk.  However, there is a procedure that you must follow to be legal in order to exit the vehicle with that firearm. The procedure requires you to unload your pistol before you exit the vehicle and then, you must re-conceal it before you exit and then, you can step around your trunk and then temporarily remove it from concealment and place it in your trunk.

Outside the Cook County Court Houses there are Lockboxes for the Safekeeping of Firearms

I think anybody who does that is really not doing themselves a favor because I can’t imagine driving to the courthouse for some traffic ticket and sitting in my car and removing my pistol from concealment, dropping the magazine and racking the slide, I can only imagine if some pedestrian or police officer walk past my car at that particular movement and saw me manipulating my pistol, I’ve got to think that the SWAT team would be waiting for me at the top of the stairs.  So, I think it’s very ill-advised and I think the law’s very poor, it could be really clear.  You leave your pistol inside your car in concealment or in a container of some type. To obviate that problem, Cook County in its wisdom; remember this is the county that has the special trees in a forest preserve.  Cook County in their infinite wisdom – has gone to each one of the courthouses and there are six districts in Cook Counties and each one has a courthouse.  Outside of these courthouses, they’ve gone through the great trouble and expense of putting lockboxes so that people can secure their firearm in the lockbox if they should come to court with their firearms.  So, that again is within the, what we call, the safe haven rule.

There is No Legal Way of Getting to the Lockboxes to Secure a Firearm

The only problem with that is that if you came to court on public transportation, you wouldn’t have your firearm because it’s prohibited on public transportation.  If you got a ride to the courthouse, someone can’t drop you off so that you can walk over to the walk boxes because that’s prohibited; you can only exit the vehicle once the pistol is unloaded and remember the statute only allows you to walk to the trunk. So, if you stay inside the car and you go to the parking garage and you park your car, even if you were to unload it, you can’t walk past the trunk.  So, you have no legal way of getting to the lockboxes. So, I see that as another disaster waiting to happen.  Some poor guy will think, “Hey, great!  They’ve provided these great lockboxes.  Terrific!  I’m going to secure my firearm and be an honest and a law abiding citizen”, and probably get arrested in the process.

In the State of Illinois there are Lots of Pitfalls for Concealed Carry Holders

Whoever designed the lockboxes and came with that idea was probably one of the writers of the Concealed Carry Law.  Great idea, poorly executed.  So, lots and lots of pitfalls for Illinois concealed carry holders.  Take for example, you can’t carry it in any place that sells alcohol or even has a temporary permit to serve the alcohol. So, for example, if they were being invited to one of these grand openings and they’re handing little whiskey cups with an ounce or so of champagne in it.  They don’t know they’re providing alcohol, so you can’t go in there with your firearms.  It makes it very, very difficult to carry a firearm to defend yourself if you have a maze of places whereby you cannot lawfully enter. And again, I think that was really the goal of the writers to make it so difficult and so arduous to carry that it would put a chilling effect on your ability to carry.  So, I point out to all concealed carry holders, you must constantly revisit the statute and review it so that you can stay legal because otherwise, you’re going to find yourself a victim of the statute.

Chicago is the Murder Capital of the United States with an Average of 3 People Getting Murdered Daily

Remember that statistically, when the police or the government talks about we’ve gotten all these “Illegal guns” off the street but the really thing is anybody who’s arrested who has a gun is somebody we considered to have an illegal gun, but you could have your FOID, you could you have carry permit, you could just time yourself in a wrong place at a wrong time and you have walked into a store without seeing the sign but the sign wasn’t conspicuously posted or you didn’t send your accountant in there doing an audit to make sure plus or minus 50 per cent of their revenue from the sale of the alcoholic beverages and you can find yourself arrested and that is going to bolster their false statistics about getting illegal guns off the street. Let’s not forget that Chicago is the murder capital of the United States.  About three people a day get murdered and in any given weekend, 40 to 50 people are the victims of shootings, where they survive but nonetheless, there are a lot of shootings in Chicago.  These are not people that have concealed carry permit, these are not people that went through the classes, these are not people who’ve submitted photographs and fingerprints, and these are not people who submitted the background checks.

Typically 99.5 Percent of Concealed Carry Holders are Law-Abiding Citizens

The concealed carry holders, statistically 99.5 per cent of them, are very law abiding.  So, if we want to make sure that we stay on the right side of law, again I will encourage people to constantly revisit the statute or contact a qualified attorney such as myself to give them the aye or nay and what they can or cannot do. Now, most of the time, when you’re in violation of the statute, it’s a class A misdemeanor, which means that you could be jailed from one day to one year and fined from $1 to $2,500 or any combination of the two.  Unfortunately, even being charged with the crime, the Illinois State Police will immediately cancel and invalidate your concealed carry license and getting it back is merely impossible because the burden on the Concealed Carry Licensing Board is are you or would you be a danger to yourself or others?  And the burden of proof on them is a preponderance of the evidence.

Even the Accusation of Criminal or Illegal Activity Can Prevent the Renewal of a Concealed Carry License

They only have to decide by 51 per cent if they think you’re danger to yourself or others to be able to be granted a concealed carry license.  So, as a result, with even the slightest amount or even the accusation of criminal or illegal activity, they’re going to deny you the renewal of your concealed carry license.  So, I’ve got quite a number of those cases in court right now where clients have been arrested for one thing or another, the case was dismissed and/or expunged as well and nonetheless, their permit was denied. Illinois has a unique secretive procedure whereby the content of the board’s meetings are not discoverable, meaning you cannot get any transcribed minutes of what they discussed.  So, it’s not available by request and it is not available by virtue of the use of the Freedom of Information Act.  The only way you can get those minutes is if you file a lawsuit against the Board for abusing their discretion and then and only then can you get the transcribed minutes and know exactly what was said. We’re discovering more and more if little to nothing is said and it becomes a rubberstamp denial.

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