Thanks in part to local lawmakers and enhanced efforts by law enforcement, gun-related homicides have dropped in the Windy City. Still, our gun violence rates are among the highest in the nation.
Chicago’s gun violence epidemic doesn’t just affect the victims of these heinous crimes and the criminals that commit them. Enhanced efforts to police Chicago gun crimes also mean gun owners who have no intention of violence or commission of a crime are also more likely to be charged.
As a law-abiding gun owner, what do you need to know?
Today’s update of a previous article reflects the most current trends in Illinois gun crimes, efforts by lawmakers to police them, and the common offenses that otherwise law-abiding firearm owners sometimes inadvertently commit.
Illinois Gun Theft by Teens Is On the Uptick
As a firearm owner, you have a responsibility to keep your weapons secure, and to thus prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, the city of Urbana is currently experiencing an increase in guns being left in unlocked cars.
These unsecured firearms are all too often stolen. Moreover, we see that thefts of this type are commonly committed by teens, who are unable to obtain firearms lawfully. These teens are then being found guilty of possession of a stolen firearm.
Once a gun is stolen, it’s frequently used to commit crimes. For example, one stolen Urbana firearm was used to rob an elderly woman at gunpoint several days after it went missing.
Teens have also been increasingly involved in shootings, which may be related to the theft of these unsecured firearms.
Illinois Gun Violence: A Major Priority for Lawmakers
These problems have not escaped the notice of Illinois lawmakers. Illinois Attorney General Kawame Raoul has announced plans to “push back against this normalized [gun] violence.”
This pushback will come in three installments:
First, Raoul will work with local law enforcement to combat firearm trafficking. This is likely to result in increased firearm trafficking and illegal firearm possession charges.
Secondly, he is advocating for increased access to trauma-informed care programs aimed to help individuals recover from trauma, breaking the cycle of violence.
Finally, he will increase access to the Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Act to help victims of gun violence recover damages.
So, if your firearm becomes part of a crime, this legislation will allow for tracing it back to you. Depending on how the case shakes out, the court might require your participation in new rehabilitation programs. You may even wind up paying out restitution to any victims.
Common Illinois Gun Crimes
Due in part to Chicago’s gun violence problem, Illinois has extensive gun control laws, which are strictly enforced. Common Illinois gun crimes include:
- Unlawful use of weapons
- Unlawful sale or delivery of firearms
- Unlawful purchase of firearms or ammunition
- Unlawful possession of firearms or ammunition
- Unlawful discharge of a firearm
- Possession of a stolen firearm
- Use of a stolen firearm in the commission of a criminal offense
The penalties for Illinois gun crimes depend on your charges and the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense.
Know this. In Illinois, gun crimes are always a felony. Felony convictions nearly always result in a jail sentence, and you will probably be prohibited from possessing firearms in the future.
Although the devastation of gun violence is undeniable, enhanced policing efforts for gun crimes also means that a lot of people are likely to get caught up in the net and face these serious consequences – sometimes without realizing the seriousness of the situation.
If you are one of them, don’t face criminal gun crime charges alone. Reach out to an experienced Chicago gun laws attorney to provide your best counsel and a proactive and aggressive criminal defense.
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.