Our city is often represented in the media as a city ripe with violence and shootings. It is unfortunate but Chicago is home to a lot of gun crime.
In response, local law enforcement and the courts are also taking action to combat these illegal activities.
Chicago Man Found Guilty for Mere Handgun Possession
The Chicago Police Department is cracking down on gun crime. The Chicago PD has made as many as 29 gun-related arrests in the span of 5 days. In addition, the court systems are imposing harsher punishments on criminals to combat gun crime.
Take one Chicago man who was found guilty and sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison. He was merely found in possession of a loaded handgun and 61 rounds of ammunition.
Seem harsh? Here’s why it happened that way…
Illinois Gun Laws: An Overview
There are several requirements that Illinois citizens must fulfill before and during the ownership of a firearm. These laws generally fall under two umbrellas: before you actually own your firearm, and after.
Before You Own a Firearm in Chicago
- All persons who do not have a concealed handgun permit must obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification in order to possess or purchase firearms. This license is obtained through extensive background checks.
- The State imposes a 72-hour waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and the owner obtaining possession of it.
After You Take Possession of Your Firearm
- The state attorney general and the state of Illinois impose safety standards on the design of handguns. Firearms must meet these requirements.
- Firearms must be stored safely and secured so they are not accessible to children under the age of 14.
- All lost and stolen firearms must be reported to local law enforcement.
There are additional requirements that may nullify your rights to own a gun. Some citizens may be classified as too “dangerous” to own a gun.
Too “Dangerous” for Illinois Gun Ownership
The state of Illinois looks at a series of factors when classifying individuals as being too dangerous to possess a firearm in the state of Illinois. They include:
- Those under the age of 18 caught concealing a weapon
- Those under the age of 21 convicted of misdemeanors (excluding traffic offenses)
- Individuals addicted to narcotics
- Former mental hospital residents released within the past 5 years
- Individuals clinically found to have mental disabilities
- Those currently incarcerated and confined in a penal institution
- Any convicted felon
That last one was the ultimate reason the Chicagoan was reportedly sent back to prison for seven more years. He had been previously charged and convicted by the state court for attempted armed robbery, which made it illegal to own a firearm.
Seven years may seem like a long time for what really amounts to a victimless crime. In fact, he got a much shorter sentence than he could have.
Gun Possession Penalties in Illinois
Weapon charges in the State of Illinois range from Class A Misdemeanors to Class X felonies. The charge depends on factors like the type of weapon possessed, location, previous offenses, modifications, etc.
Gun possession offenses are specifically charged from a Class 4 felony to a Class X felony most often. This means that the sentencing for gun offenses ranges from 3 years imprisonment to 30 years max, and often accompanies a fine of up to $25,000.
Repeated possession offenses are charged more harshly, as well as possession of an automatic or silenced weapon. The location of the possession, such as a school, also increases the severity of the charge. A conviction for having a loaded firearm on your person is the most likely scenario in which someone receives that 30-year prison sentence.
Gun crimes may be high in Chicago, but the state of Illinois and local police departments are taking swift action to make our communities safer. If you wind up caught in the middle, we advise finding an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney stat!
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.