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New Gun Laws in Illinois & the Effects on Domestic Violence Households

Illinois is about to see a significant shift in its day-to-day life. Starting soon, the first 5,000 licenses to carry a concealed weapon will arrive at residences. Reported by The Chicago Tribune, the new law allows Illinois residents to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon out in public. The law, however, does not provide for a right to shoot that weapon, except in situations where imminent danger to yourself or others is present.

And though this new concealed weapon law is controversial in its own right, it becomes even more so in the context of domestic violence, where a gun may be used against a spouse who is possibly seeking divorce. Also, federal law prohibits convicted abusers from obtaining a permit, while state law also prohibits the issue of licenses to those who are currently under order of protection and to those who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery. Yet the impact is less than significant.

Illinois State Law on Domestic Violence Abusers' Right to a Permit

Under Illinois state law, the prohibition of obtaining a firearms permit extends only to those who have been, in the last five years, convicted of violent offenses, and not to those who have been arrested. In addition, once the order of protection has been lifted against the perpetrator, the person is free to obtain a firearm. This offers little protection to those victims who are currently in a violent household where his or her partner has been arrested, but has never been convicted.

The way the law is currently written, a person may be arrested up to five times within a seven-year-period for any offense before his or her application for a license to carry a concealed weapon is denied. Many times, in domestic violence cases, the perpetrator does not necessarily need multiple violent incidents before inflicting serious or fatal harm to his or her spouse. A report by the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network cited a study showing that the threat of homicide increases by up to 500 percent when firearms are present in a domestic violence home.

Law Enforcement Officials' Revision of Applications in Illinois

As it stands, it is up to law enforcement officials to review all applications for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Though there are many objective qualifications for denying an application, it is up to the discretion of the officer to provide the green light for any applications. Any flagged applications are reviewed by the state advisory board for further investigation. With the new law going into effect, thousands have applied for their permits. Throughout the state, 50,000 applications have come in since January; 300 were denied outright, while 800 denied applications are currently being investigated further. In Lake County, 41 of 369 applications were denied,with half being denied because of domestic abuse. In Chicago, 86 of the 3,186 applications were denied. In Cook County, of the 14,000 applications sent in, 430 were denied; 167 of the 430 were denied because of domestic abuse and another 50 were denied because of orders of protection.

Legal Restrictions to a Permit to Carry Concealed Weapons

The following are legal restrictions that the Illinois law enforcement officials are using to weed out applications for permits to carry concealed weapons:

1. A person may be ineligible for a firearm owner's identification card, a prerequisite to obtaining a concealed carry license, if they are or have been:
  • convicted of a felony;
  • convicted, within the last five years, of battery, assault, aggravated assault or violation of an order of protection;
  • currently under an order of protection;
  • found not guilty by reason by insanity or found incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case;
  • convicted of use or possession of a marijuana or a controlled substance.
2. A person may be ineligible for a concealed carry license if they do not qualify for a firearm owner's identification card AND for one of the following reasons:
  • If law enforcement believe that the applicant is a threat or danger to himself/herself or to others;
  • If the applicant has five or more arrests in the last seven years for any offense;
  • If the applicant has been arrested three times in the last seven years for gang-related offenses;
  • If the applicant, in the last five years, has two or more driving under the influence violations.

With the passage of this new state law to carry concealed firearms, certain requirements will hopefully be added to restrict people who have perpetrated any type of domestic violence or any violent offense against another. If you or a loved one has been a victim of domestic violence, and you would like to take steps to divorce or separate from your abuser, please contact one of our experienced attorneys. Our experienced Naperville attorneys may be able to provide guidance and counsel to protect you and your loved ones from domestic abuse. Please contact us today for a consultation.

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