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.