Further Erosion of the 2nd Amendment in Illinois

By Michael Kleen

February 7, 2012

Since the Supreme Court overturned Chicago’s handgun ban in 2010, Illinois legislators have been looking for new ways to circumvent the U.S. Constitution and deprive citizens in this state of their right to bear arms. At the beginning of February, the Illinois House Rules Committee sent three bills to the House floor: HB1294, HB1599, and HB1855. These bills would revise the Criminal Code of 1961 and the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act in a way that compromises the U.S. Constitution and undermines public safety by turning peaceable citizens into criminals simply for possessing certain types of weapons.

HB1294 amends The Criminal Code of 1961 to prohibit the manufacture, possession, delivery, sale, and purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, .50 caliber rifles, and .50 caliber cartridges, including fixed magazines that have the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Exceptions are made for sport shooting, police, active duty military, and prison employees.

HB1599 amends The Criminal Code of 1961 to prohibit the sale, manufacture, purchase, or possession of certain types of weapons, including bludgeons, black-jacks, slungshots, sand-clubs, sand-bags, “knuckle weapons” (regardless of their composition), throwing stars, and switchblades. It further prohibits the “possession with the intent to use” of various improvised weapons including razors, stilettos, and broken bottles or other pieces of glass, stun guns, “or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character.” It also prohibits the transportation of firearms unless they are “broken down in a non-functioning state” or “unloaded and enclosed in a case.”

HB1855 amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to give state police the ability to “deny an application for or to revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued” if the person in question is under the age of 21 and has a misdemeanor conviction (like a traffic ticket) or does not have the written consent of a parent or guardian.

In the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald V. Chicago, the unconstitutionality of these laws should be readily apparent. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes on Federal property and struck down provisions of D.C. law that required all firearms to be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. In McDonald V. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia v. Heller decision applied to the states under the 14th Amendment.

HB1599 is unconstitutional because it contains the same provision that was struck down in District of Columbia v. Heller. HB1294 prohibits certain types of firearms, which is unconstitutional because American citizens have a right to possess firearms for legal purposes—the U.S. Constitution does not say what type of firearms they may have or how much ammunition they can carry. HB1855 is simply a bad law. It is a ridiculous notion that an 18-year-old (a legally defined adult) can carry a gun in the defense of his country in the military, but would be stripped of that right if he came home and did not have his parent’s permission to possess a FOID card, or God forbid, if he got a traffic ticket or was caught shoplifting.

Furthermore, HB1294 contradicts the intent of the 2nd Amendment. During the formative years of this country, there was a nearly unanimous agreement that the right to bear arms was tied to both personal and national defense. In other words, it was meant to protect the right of the people to possess a weapon that was capable of being used in a military capacity. That is why the 2nd Amendment contains reference to a “well-regulated militia.” This was considered a fundamental right of all free people, dating back to ancient Germanic law in the days when Roman historian Tacitus wrote that German men wore their swords while plowing their fields.

In 1790, George Washington said that “A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.” (There are a number of bogus Washington quotes pertaining to the right to bear arms, but this is the accurate one) Thomas Jefferson, in his proposed Virginia Constitution, wrote “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” In 1789, Samuel Adams warned that the Constitution should never be construed to authorize Congress to “prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.”

HB1294, HB1599, and HB1855 run counter to the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, common sense, and recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. They should be vehemently opposed, and if passed, any legislator who voted in favor of these laws should be voted out of office. Personal defense and gun ownership is a fundamental right of all citizens of Illinois and we need to start electing legislators who recognize and support that right.


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