Every New Year brings us new laws and new regulations that impact the criminal law and the way we live. On January 1, 2019, several changes to the Illinois gun laws went into effect which make it a little more difficult for people to buy a gun and makes it easier for law enforcement personnel to take guns away from people that may be deemed dangerous. The final change is an attempt to stem the rising tide of mass shootings. The changes to the Illinois gun laws are set forth below.
The first amendment to the Illinois gun laws increases the waiting period for the purchase of a rifle. Prior to January 1, 2019, if you wanted to purchase a rifle, you had to wait 24-hours between the time you purchased the gun and when you could physically possess the rifle. This waiting period of time between the purchase and the actual possession of a gun is called the “cooling-off” period. The idea behind a “cooling-off” period is to give people a period of time to cool down and lower their emotions in the event that they are purchasing a gun because they are angry at someone. An example would be if someone is fired from their job and are upset and decide to buy a gun so they can go back to their place of employment and start shooting. Another example would be if someone is angry at their spouse and is buying a gun in response to their anger. The idea behind the “cooling-off” period Is that the law wants to give the purchaser an opportunity to cool off and lower their emotions so that a shooting does not occur. Under the new amendments, the “cooling-off” period for the purchase of a rifle has been increased from 24-hours to 72-hours. This amendment matches the “cooling-off” period that has always been in place for the purchase of a handgun. The “cooling-off” period for the purchase of a taser or a stun gun has not been changed. The “cooling-off” period for a taser and a stun gun is 24-hours.
The second change to the Illinois gun laws has to do with the way FOID card renewals are processed by the State of Illinois. In Illinois, you cannot own a gun without having been issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID). In order to obtain an FOID card in Illinois, you must fill out an application, pay a small processing fee, and wait until your application is processed. An FOID card is only good for a certain period of time. Once it expires, you must have your FOID card renewed. A major complaint of gun owners in Illinois who have an FOID card is that it can take a very long period of time to have their FOID card renewed. I have had cases involving clients who have been charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Firearm where their FOID card had expired and they were arrested with a firearm while they were waiting to receive their new FOID card in the mail.
Under the 2019 amendments, the onus is on the State of Illinois to either renew or deny a renewal application for an FOID card within 60 days. If you submit your FOID renewal application before the expiration date of your FOID card, your FOID card will remain valid and active until the application is processed. This amendment should help gun owners who are caught with a gun after their FOID card has expired as long as their application was submitted before the expiration date on their FOID card.
The final 2019 change is actually a new law which is an attempt to stop mass shootings. The new law is called the Firearms Restraining Order Act. The Firearms Restraining Order Act was signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner in July 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019. This new law allows Courts to issue a six-month Emergency Order of Protection that can be processed and issued the same day as the party seeking the Emergency Order of Protection appears in Court. The Emergency Order of Protection can be issued without the alleged dangerous person being present in Court. The Firearm Restraining Order Act allows police and family members to petition a Court to temporarily revoke an alleged dangerous persons FOID card on an emergency basis and have their firearms taken away from them. If the alleged dangerous person is showing warning signs, such as making threats on social media, and the Judge finds probable cause that the alleged dangerous person is a danger to themselves or to others, the Judge can issue the Emergency Order of Protection temporarily revoking the person’s FOID card and allowing the police to obtain a search warrant allowing them to seize the person’s firearms. The Emergency Order of Protection is only good for 6-months. Violating an Emergency Order of Protection by possessing a gun while such an Order is in effect would be considered a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of up to one-year in County Jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500. All of the public records having to do with the issuance of an Emergency Order of Protection under the Firearms Restraining Order Act will be automatically expunged and removed from the public record after 3 years.
In addition to these major changes, there’s some minor changes in 2019. Illinois hospitals will be required to report involuntary psychiatric admissions to State officials who will be allowed to revoke an FOID card. Hospitals and places of worship, such as churches, will be allowed to petition the court for an Order of Protection against someone who has an FOID card. Previous to 2019, only individuals could petition the Court for an Order of Protection involving an FOID card and a gun.
James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, UUW lawyer. James Dimeas has been handling UUW and gun cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County, for over-27 years. Recently, Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois”. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois”. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction”. The American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois For the Years 2018 and 2019”. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney” and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer”. AVVO rates James Dimeas as “Superb”, the highest rating possible for any UUW lawyer in the United States.