Illinois gun owners may need to follow up on new ownership requirements and background restrictions on sales. A bill in the Illinois House is aimed at modernizing the state’s firearm owner’s identification card (FOID) law and requiring background checks on private sales of firearms.
Although current law requires law enforcement to approve or deny applications for firearms within 30 days, the average processing time for a new applicant is actually six-and-a-half months. The dramatic increase in FOID applications, up 167% from 2017 to 2020, without any updated processing measures, has inundated state police with paperwork and created delays that are now attracting lawsuits on constitutional grounds. The new law addresses the backlog, providing streamlining of renewals with a fingerprint identification and other measures.
Just as citizens seeking protection from civil unrest and soaring crime rates have faced processing delays, particularly in Chicago, there are also delays in the confiscation of firearms of individuals whose FOID cards have been revoked.
The new law also tightens background checks, angering some gun owners. Under the new provisions, a seller or buyer of a firearm through an unlicensed dealer may face misdemeanor charges if they cannot identify the dealer, which, according to pro-gun advocates, unfairly penalizes lawful gun owners.
Using a firearm in self-defense
Although Illinois does not have a “stand-your-ground” law, people do have a right to the protection of property, self and others with a reasonable standard of defense. Self-defense is justifiable if there is:
- Imminent danger to self, another or property
- Unlawful threat
- Belief that danger required force
- Force that was equal to the threat
The claim of self-defense will be thrown out if the accused was the aggressor or acted unreasonably. The individual may use regular force to immobilize or otherwise prevent an aggressor’s actions in the defense of self or another, or deadly force if the individual believes there is imminent danger of harm or death, or to prevent a forcible felony of sexual assault, battery, murder, robbery or arson.
When law enforcement brings charges of unlawful firearm use, often they compound the offenses that, upon conviction, may lead to restrictions, fines and imprisonment. Because weapons offenses carry strong penalties, individual must have a strong defense team that not only protects their constitutional rights, but also their lawful right to possess and use a firearm.