Despite tight gun control laws, Chicago is notorious for its gun violence problem, and the issue appears to be escalating.
For instance in a single weekend, six victims died of 28 total people shot recently in the city. Among the dead is a 15-year-old-boy from Englewood. This is only a snapshot of the gun violence Chicagoans face on an annual basis, and in response, Chicago law enforcement is now prioritizing its focus on gun crimes.
The problem with going gung-ho on gun control, is that oftentime otherwise law-abiding citizens get caught in the crosshairs by inadvertently commit gun crimes. Even if there is no intention of violence, these crimes will likely be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
If you’re a gun owner or retailer in Chicago, understanding current events and the laws surrounding firearm sale, possession and use is key to making sure you don’t get caught mishandling them.
Legal Gun Sale and Possession in Chicago
Both purchasers and sellers of guns in this city have a responsibility to follow Illinois gun law throughout every gun transaction.
Selling Guns in Chicago
Every person who purchases a gun from you must hold an identification card issued by the State of Illinois. It’s known as the Firearm Owners Identification — or FOID — card.
Whether your a public retailer or private dealer, you, as a seller are responsible for verifying the validity of the card presented to you, and for record-keeping of the sale for a minimum of ten years.
Legal Purchase and Possession
In order to legally buy or possess a firearm, you must be in possession of and present your FOID card at the time of purchase. You can apply for one through the Illinois State Police, and the card will be automatically issued if you meet the following criteria:
- Over the age of 18
- Not addicted to narcotics
- No admission to a mental health facility in the last five years
- Do not have any felony convictions
- Do not have an intellectual disability
Once your identification card(s) have been issued, you can legally purchase and possess firearms, with the exception of machine guns, stun guns and rifles or shotguns modified to less than 26 inches in length.
Chicago Gun Crimes
When you are caught committing a gun crime, you could face serious jail time and substantial criminal fines.
Illegal Sale or Delivery of a Firearm
Selling or distributing guns illegally will land you charges of — wait for it — Illegal Sale or Delivery of Firearms, a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1-3 years behind bars and up to $25,000 in fines.
Aggravating factors, such as sales of guns at schools, public parks, courthouses, or public housing can further increase these penalties.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
Get caught with a firearm you’re not supposed to have, you’ll be charged with unlawful possession — even when prosecutors can’t prove that you obtained the gun illegally. A Class A Misdemeanor, simply unlawfully possessing a gun can mean up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
If the gun in question is a handgun, facing an enhancement to Class 4 Felony could triple your incarceration and increase fines ten-fold.
As a convicted felon you will also be prohibited from possessing guns in the future.
Unlawful Purchase of a Firearm
Finally, falsifying documents to purchase a firearm is charged as Unlawful Purchase of a Firearm. This charge actually carries the most severe charge and sentence among them, with a classification of Class 2 Felony.
You stand to spend seven years in prison and pay fines up to $250,000.
Gun owners and retailers in Chicago beware. Current events have every transaction and possession under a microscope right now – and for good reason. If you do wind up on the wrong end of the law when it comes to your handling of guns in Chicago, an experienced Illinois gun crimes attorney can help.
About the Author:
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.