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Monday, February 5, 2018

Illinois' Gun Ban Within 1000 Feet of Public Parks Unconstitutional

On February 1st, the Illinois Supreme Court found an Illinois statute that bans persons from carrying or possessing firearms within 1,000 feet of a public park unconstitutional. People v. Chairez, 2018 IL 121417.

The Unlawful Use of Weapons Statute, 720 ILCS 5/24 et seq., prohibits people from carrying guns in certain public areas, including schools, public housing, public parks, courthouses. The law also prohibits guns on any public way within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, courthouses, public transportation facility, or public housing. A violation is a class 3 felony.

Mr. Chairez pled guilty to possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public park but later sought to vacate his conviction based on his claim that the statute was unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, and struck down that portion of the statute that banned guns within 1,000 feet of a public park. The Court determined that the 1,000 ban was a severe burden on a person's Second Amendment right to carry a firearm, and that the state had failed to show how the 1000 foot ban actually reduces gun violence to children in public parks. The Court also noted the difficulty in a person determining the 1,000 foot area for purposes of compliance with the statute.

The Court did not address the 1,000 foot ban as it applies to the other statutory public areas (i.e., schools, courthouses, public housing), nor does the opinion affect the ban within public parks and the other statutory public areas.

Post Authored by Megan Mack and Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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