Chicago Gun Crime Attorney
Guns & Weapons Violations
Among the many laws meant to protect us all as citizens, those that prohibit the possession or use of firearms and other weapons have been enacted on the local level in Chicago, as well as across the country. But not all the states agree on what weapons should be allowed, nor do they agree under what circumstances these weapons may be possessed, or on how to regulate who owns a weapon, what manner of licensing is required, how to issue concealed carry regulations, etc.
In Illinois, there exist comprehensive laws which regulate all manner of weapons, how they may be possessed, by whom, and where. The penalties for a violation can range from a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both, as well as certain alternatives to a jail sentence) all the way up to a Class X felony (punishable by a mandatory prison term of anywhere from six to 30 years).
Although the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment does allow a person the right to bear arms, the right is not absolute. It is subject to reasonable restrictions made by governments to allow for an orderly society. While some previous laws have been ruled unconstitutional, the vast majority of legislation has survived, and our laws today remain as stated below.
If you have been charged with any gun or weapons violation, contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824 for experienced legal representation.
Unlawful Use of Weapon (UUW)
In Illinois, there is a criminal statute (law) which appears in Chapter 720 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, section 5/24-1 and which is called "Unlawful Use of a Weapon." At our law office, we often have clients that say to us, "I had the gun on me, but I didn’t use it." The word “use” in the name of this statute, however, is misleading in that regard, as many of the acts made illegal under this statute involve the mere carrying or possessing of a gun on or about one’s person, or in areas under his or her control (such as inside an automobile).
Some offenses in the statute do require more than the mere possession of the weapon, and in such cases there must be an intention to use the weapon in an unlawful manner against another person. The distinguishing factor is the type of weapon - is it inherently dangerous on its own and intended to be a weapon? Or is it an otherwise-innocent object that is not intended to be used solely as a weapon?
Under subsection (a)(2), one may carry or possess the following items, but not with the intent to use them unlawfully against another person:
- Dangerous knife
- Broken bottle or piece of glass
- Stun gun
- Taser, or other like item
You can have them on your person, in your car, in your house, wherever you are; but if you exhibit any intent to assault or attack another person without lawful justification, then you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
As we have said in other topics on our website, one may use deadly force against another only when that one reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to one’s self, or to another.
Inherently Dangerous Weapons
But subsections (a)(1), and (a)(3) through (a)(13), involve weapons that are inherently dangerous and deadly. The following weapons may not be carried or possessed on one’s person, in a vehicle, or anywhere not their fixed place of abode, or fixed place of business:
- Sand club
- Sand bag
- Metal knuckles or other knuckle weapon
- Throwing star
- Switchblade knife (any blade that opens by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife)
- Ballistic knife (a blade propelled by a coiled spring, compressed gas, etc., as a projectile)
- Tear-gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing a noxious liquid gas or substance, other than a non-lethal one designed solely for self-defense (such as pepper spray)
- Spring gun
To possess any of these items, even on one’s own property, is a violation of the law, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
Legally Carrying Weapons
It is unlawful and a misdemeanor to possess or carry in a vehicle, or concealed upon one’s person, except when on one’s land or in one’s home, business, or as an invitee of someone else on their property, home, or business, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser, or other firearm UNLESS the weapons are:
- Broken down to a non-working condition; or
- Not immediately accessible; or
- Unloaded and kept in a case, firearm-carrying box, shipping box, or other container, AND
- Carried/possessed by someone who has a validly issued and current Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID); or
- Carried/possessed pursuant to a valid conceal and carry license issued pursuant to the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
Enhanced Penalties Under Certain Circumstances
- Use of a silencer. It is unlawful to possess or carry, under any circumstances, a "silencer" (a device that mutes the sound of a gun being fired). To do so is a Class 3 felony, punishable by anywhere from two to five years in prison.
- Bombs, explosives, sawed-off shotguns. It is unlawful to possess or carry under any circumstances any machine gun, sawed-off rifle or shotgun, or any bombs, grenades, or other flammable liquid explosives, such as a "Molotov cocktail." A sawed-off shotgun or rifle, or any bomb, grenade, or flammable liquid explosive, is a Class 3 felony as well, but to possess a machine gun is a Class 2 felony (a mandatory prison sentence of three to seven years). If the machine gun is possessed in the passenger compartment of an automobile or on one’s person, and is loaded, then it is a Class X felony, with a mandatory prison term of six to 30 years.
- Weapons in bars or public events. It is a more serious violation of the law to carry any firearm, stun gun, taser, or other deadly weapon into a business whose primary purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages, such as your neighborhood bar. It is also against the law to do so at any publicly held event that was issued a license by a governmental authority (unless the event was specifically focused on firearm exhibitions in some manner). If someone possesses these types of weapons, or a ballistic knife, while masked in some manner to hide his/her identity, then like the above situations, what otherwise would be just a misdemeanor now becomes a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to one to three years in prison.
- Weapons near schools, courts, parks. The laws also hand out more serious punishments where weapon violations occur within 1,000 feet of a schoolyard 24/7/365 (meaning anytime, any day, all year, you cannot bring weapons anywhere near). You also cannot bring weapons within 1,000 feet of a subsidized housing complex (CHA buildings in Chicago, Joliet, Waukegan, or elsewhere as examples) or their grounds, public parks, court houses, or school buses, or a public transportation facility. Every violation of these provisions is a felony, ranging from a Class 4 up to a Class 2 with a mandatory prison term.
- Discharging a firearm. The unlawful discharge of a firearm is, of course, punished more severely than merely possessing the weapon. If the weapon was fired in a reckless manner that puts other people’s safety in danger, regardless of intent to actually harm anyone, that is a Class 4 felony. So the tradition of firing guns in the air in celebration of certain holidays like New Year’s can indeed land one in prison.
- Firing into a building or car. If a person fires a weapon at or into a building known to be occupied, in the direction of other people, or at an automobile known to be occupied, all of these are Class 1 felonies (four to 15 years in prison); but if done within 1,000 feet of a school, school property, a school event, or at a school bus, it is a Class X felony.
- Firing at police, teacher, or jail employee. If a person fires a weapon towards a known peace officer, community policing volunteer, jail employee, or fireman while he or she is engaged in official duties, or to prevent performance of duties, or in retaliation for performance of his or her duties; it’s a Class X felony. This penalty also applies to shooting at a paramedic, a teacher in or on school grounds, an emergency management worker, or at a vehicle known to be occupied by an emergency management worker.
- Carrying a gun with ammunition accessible. The laws also offer up enhanced penalties for certain individuals that possess firearms or other deadly weapons. Persons carrying a pistol, revolver, handgun, or other firearm uncased and unloaded, but with the ammunition immediately accessible, commit a Class 4 felony.
- Carrying a gun while committing drug crimes. Persons carrying a pistol, revolver, or handgun while committing misdemeanor cannabis or methamphetamine violations commit a Class 4 felony. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 2 felony.
- Convicted felon carrying a gun. If a person possesses a firearm and has previously been convicted of any felony offense in Illinois or any other state, that is a Class 2 felony.
- Carrying a gun without a FOID card and wearing body armor. Anyone without an FOID card that is in possession of a firearm while wearing body armor is guilty of a Class X felony.
- Street gang member carrying a weapon. If one is proven to be a member of a street gang, and is in possession of a firearm, then it’s a Class 2 felony. If a prison term is ordered, it shall be anywhere from three to ten years in prison. If the weapon is loaded, then it is a mandatory prison term, with no possibility of probation.
Call Our Chicago Gun Crime Lawyers for Immediate Assistance
The Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Mitchell Sexner & Associates LLC have decades of experience in the defense of criminal cases involving gun- and other weapon-related charges. We are experienced and knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to weapons possession and usage. We are tenacious in our investigation and as determined to find facts that may provide a defense as we are aggressive when presenting that defense in court.
Sometimes, police obtain evidence in violation of one’s rights to privacy or otherwise. Where we find that has occurred we seek the suppression of the evidence in court. Other times, one may be charged with the possession of an item of which one had no knowledge or control over. We will aggressively defend our clients in pursuit of justice.
Our offices may be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We offer, absolutely free and without obligation, a confidential consultation so that we can learn about your particular case, and advise you about how we may best be able to assist. Call us right away at (800) 996-4824 to schedule an appointment. With offices located in Chicago and Arlington Heights, we are conveniently located in order to help you.