How Effective Is Gun Control?

Gun control is an explosively controversial topic that is the subject of endless debate in Congress and among individuals. Every time there is a mass shooting, more people call for gun control legislation, while others say that those laws will only keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Those on both sides agree that gun control will have little direct impact on the flow of illegal guns that are used to commit crimes in Illinois.

However, a recent study suggests that states with stricter gun laws do have lower rates of gun deaths. States with the most laws regarding gun control had about 42 percent lower death rates from gun violence.

Illinois has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.  Our laws go beyond federal standards and severely punish those who commit crimes with involvement of a firearm. On August 23, 2016 gun bill HB 6303 strengthened penalties for firearms trafficking throughout the state.  The new gun law means harsher sentences to people who buy guns which have been illegally imported to Illinois and to people who are selling them.

If you have been charged with a crime involving guns in Illinois, you face dire consequences. Do not go it alone when you can get legal guidance from a criminal defense attorney who knows and understands the judges, the courts and the system. The experienced Illinois criminal attorneys at Wolfe and Stec can help you with any gun crime charges. We offer a free consultation, so contact us at 630-305-0222 to discuss your individual situation.

Gun Control Laws in Illinois

Gun laws in Illinois regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition. In addition, the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the National Firearms Act apply to Illinois gun owners. Federal law largely determines what kinds of firearms may be owned legally, and state laws more heavily regulate who can purchase or possess firearms, how they may do so, and where such firearms can be used.

In general, Illinois gun control laws prohibit the sale, use, or possession of certain weapons, including fully automatic machine guns, armor-piercing bullets, and silencers. For weapons that are allowed, there is a three-day (72-hour) waiting period for a handgun, or 24 hours for a rifle or shotgun.  Buyers must meet eligibility criteria to buy a gun, and everyone who sells a gun must perform a background check on potential buyers. There are locations, such as schools and hospitals, where firearms are more heavily restricted.

The FOID Card

In 2013, Illinois became the last state to legalize possession and concealed carry of a firearm outside the home.  If you are an Illinois resident and wish to legally possess firearms or ammunition, you must have a handgun license, known as a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card.

To obtain a FOID card, you must submit an application to the state police department (website.) The Illinois State Police checks the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to determine if  the applicant has a criminal record, is addicted to controlled substances, is mentally impaired, or if there are other situations that would make the person ineligible to own a firearm. Once the FOID card is issued, the State Police checks the FBI system every 24 hours and revokes the card of anyone who has incurred a recent infraction.

Illinois does not recognize concealed carry licenses from other states, except for carry in a vehicle.   Even if you are licensed to carry concealed weapons, you are prohibited from doing so while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Comparisons With Other Countries and States

Every day in the United States, dozens of people are killed by gun violence, amounting to about 31.2 people per million every year. Contrast that to other countries with restrictive gun laws — Germany has 2.1 deaths by gun violence per million people; Australia has 1.7 deaths per million; England has 0.9 deaths per million; and Canada has 5.6 deaths by gun violence per million each year.  These countries have had strict gun laws for a long time, so gun availability is sparse.

In the U.S., we have a large number of guns already in circulation, so tough gun laws would not eliminate the number of guns we already have. Plus, since Americans travel freely between states, it is not hard to travel to a location where purchasing a gun is easier. So while Illinois has some of the toughest background checks in the country, and private sellers must take responsibility for ensuring that they are selling firearms to someone without a criminal record, this doesn’t stop someone with a clean background from buying a gun for a criminal, and it doesn’t impact gun trafficking by gang members.

What Are Punishments for Gun Violations?

Gun violation punishments depend on the circumstances.  For example, a minimal violation of legal gun possession is a Class A misdemeanor with punishments of less than 1 year in jail plus up to $2,500 in fines.

At the other end of the range is a Class X felony for aggravated firearm discharge, including discharging at or into an occupied building or vehicle or knowingly shooting at an official. For a Class X conviction, there is no chance for getting probation, and sentencing is usually anywhere from 6 to 30 years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, and a minimum parole of 3 years.

Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd For Help With Any Gun Violations

If you have been accused of any gun violations in Illinois, you need legal assistance.  Many gun or weapons offenses, especially those related to the commission of another crime while in possession of a gun, carry mandatory prison terms. Charges such as armed violence, armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking, and home invasion carry increased penalties if a firearm was used.

The Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense.

Don’t delay — contact us for a free consultation today if you have been accused of any gun charges at 630-305-0222. Our Illinois gun crimes lawyers represent clients in DuPage County, Cook County, Will County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Bolingbrook, and the Greater Chicagoland area.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]