Friday, November 20, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Changes Illinois Gun Law

On October 8, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court released a decision which has made some substantial changes to the law regarding Unlawful Use of Weapon (UUW) in Illinois.  The case is People of the State of Illinois v. Diggins, Docket No. 106367.  In Diggins, a Peoria police officer observed the defendant make a right turn without using his turn signal.  The officer pulled over the vehicle and asked the driver for his license.  The driver could not produce a license but did produce an FOID card.  The officer asked the driver if he had any guns in the car and the driver told him he had guns in the center console.  The driver and the passenger were placed under arrest.  The officer observed that the center console was ajar but locked.  The passenger gave the officer keys to the console and after the officer unlocked the console he found a .45 caliber handgun and a .357 Magnum revolver.  Both weapons were unloaded.  He also found a magazine loaded with 8 .45 caliber rounds and six .357 Magnum rounds in the same center console.  In the rear compartment area of the vehicle he retrieved a duffel bag containing several boxes of additional ammunition.  At trial, Diggins was found guilty of UUW and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Under Illinois law, as long as someone has an FOID card, they can transport a handgun provided that it is unloaded and in a case.  Diggins is important because the court changed the previously accepted definition of the word "case."  Before Diggins, "case" was thought of as being a container of some type.  However, the Illinois Legislature never defined "case" so the Supreme Court made an exhaustive analysis of what "case" means and determined that the center console is a "case" within the meaning of the Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon statute.  The court also said that the glove compartment would also be a "case" within the meaning of the statute.  The practical effect of this case is that so long as someone with an FOID card has the gun unloaded in their glove compartment, along with their ammo in the same compartment, they would not be guilty of a UUW if they were pulled over.
In response, gun rights advocates were thrilled at the expansion of gun rights.  Police officers were alarmed.  They argue that allowing motorists to have guns and easy to load magazines so easily accessible to motorists adds additional danger to their work.  Some law enforcement personnel indicated they will push the Illinois Legislature to fix the law while gun rights advocates feel emboldened to try to legalize conceal and carry in Illinois.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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