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posted on 7/17/22

Several challenges have been made to Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Act (FOID) but the Illinois Supreme Court has refused to rule that Illinois’ variation of the FOID Act is unconstitutional. They came close, though.

In the most recent case alleging the FOID Act is unconstitutional, a woman claimed that she did not require a FOID card to possess a gun in her own home. She argued that enforcing the FOID Act would result in an erosion of constitutional rights including (but not limited to) the Second and Fourth Amendments. The issue at play was the enforceability of the law as written. FOID card holders are required to have a FOID card in their possession at all times when they are carrying a weapon. However, it would be impossible to enforce this regulation 24 hours a day in their own home. For this reason, the case against the defendant was dismissed. But the Illinois Supreme Court stopped short of declaring the rule unconstitutional. A circuit court had ruled that the FOID rule was unconstitutional.

Is the Law Unconstitutional?

Well, not yet. The ruling states that the legislative intent of the FOID Act prevents it from being actionable within the confines of your own home. So, you cannot be charged with a FOID violation for a weapon found in your own home. That does not mean, however, that the requirements of the FOID act are universally unconstitutional. You just cannot be charged with a FOID violation for a gun found within the confines of your home. In other words, the trial court offered a separate non-constitutional reason to dismiss the charges against the defendant. As a general rule, the Supreme Court will not rule on issues of constitutionality when there is another non-constitutional reason to dismiss the claim.

Does That Mean I Do Not Need a FOID Card to Own a Gun?

Well, you need a FOID card to purchase the gun and transport the gun into your home. But upon finding a weapon in your home, the police cannot charge you with a FOID-based crime. Plus, there is a good chance that the state will appeal the decision and the defendant mentioned above could be left in “legal limbo” for an extended period of time while the courts determine if the FOID act applies to her case. The defendant is expected to lose the appeal and the case is expected to go back to the Illinois Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds.

If you want to own a gun in your own home, your best bet is to apply for the FOID card and not have to worry about fighting with legislators in court.

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