Illinois Churches and Concealed Carry

I am proud to have been invited to speak at a local suburban church, where they are considering posting the “No Legal Guns” sign on their doors. Due to church politics, that invitation has been delayed/cancelled, however if my speech could be of assistance to anyone else, please read below…

 

Thank you for taking a minute to hear me out. I think we all want the same thing, especially the Peace and Justice Committee. We all want to be safe, however there is a difference between feeling safe and actually being safe. Placing the “No Legal Guns” sign actually could potentially have the opposite effect of creating a safe environment to worship.

As well as the opposite effect of safety, I want to point out the irony of the decision to consider posting of the “No Legal Guns” sign. This is ironic because we wouldn’t even have the ability to legally carry concealed firearms in Illinois if not for Mary Shepard. Mary was attacked at her place of work in September of 2009, which happened to be a church. The attacker was charged with attempted murder due to the beating that Mary and two of her co-workers endured, with Mary herself suffering skull and facial fractures from the attack and untold mental trauma as well.

While you may be thinking this is a fluke case or random act of violence, it is not. According to a study by the Crime Prevention Institute in 2016, 98% of mass shootings actually happen in supposed “gun free zones”. More specifically, churches and other places of worship are common targets for violence. There is a national database of Christian church shootings and upon examining this database, we see during the years of 1980 and 2005 there were 139 Church shootings in the United States. This created 185 needless deaths, including children. This data does not include any other attacks, such as arson, bombings or attacks on non-Christian places of worship, such as the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin in 2012 or the attack on the Muslim mosque in Canada just a few weeks ago.

We also know that in December 2016, ISIS called for the attack of Christian churches in the United States. While people may think a gun free zone will keep them safe, it’s not likely ISIS or any other attacker intent on causing harm will obey the “No Legal Guns” sign or any sign for that matter.

While it’s not likely a criminal will obey the sign, who will? The law abiding gun owners who have gone about the legal process of getting trained, background checked, and carry their firearm in accordance with the law. The people who will obey the sign have no ill will and are members of your church.

Attackers will not disarm. The idea that an attacker will disarm is akin to the idea that a speeder will slow down based on the posted speed limit. The speed limit signs are spaced approximately 1,000-2,000 feet apart, yet are ignored by people who are intent on breaking the law: by speeding.

In other words, we are disarming the good guys but not the bad guys. How do we know they are the good guys? Well, a study in 2016 by the Crime Prevention Institute shows that those who are licensed to carry concealed firearms are actually THE most law abiding demographic in the entire United States, even more so than the police officers who are sworn to uphold the law.

In Illinois, to obtain a concealed carry license, the applicant has to achieve sixteen hours of training, which includes the safe operation of a firearm as well as having knowledge of gun laws. They must meet the following qualifications:

  • No warrants
  • Fewer than 2 DUIs
  • No violent convictions of any kind
  • No illegal drugs or narcotics
  • Not a danger to self or others
  • Zero felonies
  • Never been judged a mental defective
  • No mental health issues
  •  No history of domestic violence

This is a very high standard to meet! These are the people you will be keeping out of your church when you post the sign. So you know, these people are upstanding and honest citizens; the best of the best. What do you know about everyone else walking through those doors though?

There is also further data to support that people whom are legally carrying firearms have actually stopped attacks on churches. A law-abiding, legally-armed citizen stopped an attack on the New Life church in December of 2007, Freewill Baptist Church in March 2012, and the New Destiny Church in Aurora Colorado in 2012. This does not include the dozens of other mass shootings stopped by legally-armed civilians in non-church settings. Good guys with guns CAN stop bad guys with guns, and have proven to do so.

Remember, you’re not considering posting a “No Guns” sign, but a “No LEGAL Guns” sign. I hope that you will consider whom you will actually be keeping out of your building by posting these signs and hope that you actually consider whom you may actually be inviting.

Be good shepherds. Don’t invite the wolves into your flock.

Under current law, churches are not on the statutory gun free zone list, though in the past, bills have been submitted in the legislature to include places of worship. Those bills failed for the reasons mentioned above.

Any church with the “No Legal Guns” sign has posted voluntarily, or been forced through committee.

Transport your Firearm Legally in Illinois – Illinois State Police

Transporting your firearm legally in Illinois is sometimes a confusing topic, but it doesn’t have to be. There is much information that makes it easy to comply with the law to transport your firearm legally in Illinois. However the law does treat Illinois residents and non residents differently, so it is also important to know those differences. It is also important to know the legal differences between “Carry” and “Transportation” in Illinois. This article is not to be considered legal advice.

Transporting your Firearm Legally for Illinois Residents

Illinois residents must always have their Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card or their Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) on their person at all times when in possession of firearms and ammunition.

With your FOID, for transport, the firearm must either be..

  • Broken down in a non functioning state, OR
  • Not immediately Accessible, OR
  • Unloaded and enclosed in a case.

The following pamphlet was printed before Illinois allowed carrying of concealed firearms, however does clearly explain how one may transport you firearm legally in Illinois: Transporting-Your-Firearm-Legally-Illinois-State-Police Brochure

For an Illinois resident to carry a firearm, they must have a valid Illinois Concealed Carry License on their person and the firearm must be a hand gun as defined by the Illinois law.

 

Transporting your Firearm Legally for Illinois Non-Residents

The process for an Illinois non-resident to transport their firearm legally in Illinois is similar to that of a resident, however there are also some differences.  The first difference is that the non-resident does not need a FOID card. Infact most non residents aren’t even aware of what a FOID card is. Essentially it is a card that says you have passed a background check, similar to the National Instant Check System (NICS) that anyone who has bought a gun has underwent.  The difference is Illinois residents need this card on their person at all times they are in possession of firearms or ammunition, non residents do not.

For purposes of transportation, the non-resident must adhere to the above described criteria of broken down in a non functioning state, OR not immediately Accessible, OR unloaded and enclosed in a case.

It is important to note that the case does not need to be a separate case for the firearm and the ammunition. It is also important to note that the case(s) need not be locked. There is some mis-information surrounding this topic and I believe that confusion arises when we discuss the federal Firearm Owner Protection Act (FOPA) which states for federal transportation purposes the firearms and ammunition must be in separate locked cases.  Illinois does not have this requirement.

The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing Act states:

(e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her vehicle and the non-resident:
(1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a
firearm under federal law;
(2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under
the laws of his or her state or territory of residence, as evidenced by the possession of a concealed carry license or permit issued by his or her state of residence, if applicable; and
(3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.
If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.

 

What about Carrying of a Concealed Firearm in Illinois?

As previously stated, in the eyes of the law transportation and carrying are two separate and distinctly different subjects.  Only hand guns may be carried in Illinois. And Illinois does not allow Open Carry, meaning the firearm is visible to the general public (except on ones own private land, or the land of another with their permission).  Illinois residents must have their concealed carry license on their person at all times when carrying concealed.

However the law is more loose for non-residents. While Illinois does not honor (read: reciprocation) the concealed carry licenses of any other states, and while Illinois only will issue non-resident licenses to 4 other states (See recent changes to non resident eligibility) actually non-residents are able to carry concealed firearms without an Illinois concealed carry license while in their vehicle if they are licensed to carry in their state of residence.

 

Some legal Definitions you need to know when transporting your firearm legally in Illinois.

According to various laws  it is important you understand how certain terms are defined legally in Illinois.

The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing (FCCL) Act defines concealed firearm as…

“Concealed firearm” means a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.

 

The FCCL defines handgun as…

“Handgun” means any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.

The FCCL, however excludes the following items from the definition of handgun…

“Handgun” does not include:
(1) a stun gun or taser;
(2) a machine gun as defined in item (i) of paragraph

(7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(3) a short-barreled rifle or shotgun as defined in
item (ii) of paragraph (7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012; or
(4) any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or
B-B gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inch in diameter, or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second, or which expels breakable paint balls containing washable marking colors.

 

The FCCL as well as previous case law, defines case as…

“case” includes a glove compartment or console that completely encloses the concealed firearm or ammunition, the trunk of the vehicle, or a firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container.

 

This article is not legal advice. Please consult your criminal defense attorney with any questions.

How to file an Illinois Witness Slip

Protecting your gun rights is your responsibility. When new gun bans and legislation are introduced it is your responsibility to voice your opposition. When pro gun bills and legislation are introduced it your your responsibility to voice your support.  Filing and Illinois Witness slip is very fast and simple to do, and I’ll explain step by step below.

 

Step 1 – Optional Create an Account

The first step in filing an Illinois witness slips is actually optional, but I recommend it. That is to create an account at the Illinois General Assembly Website. This is an official Illinois Government website, but not is not the main parent website where the test of bills are stored.  If you already have an account at the my.ilga website, proceed to step 2 below.

Visit my.ilga.gov . If you don’t already have an account, simply click on the link to “Register” which will redirect you to the registration page:  http://my.ilga.gov/Account/Register where you would enter in your email address and password, and agree to the terms. You will then be sent a confirmation email.

Registration is recommended because when completing a witness slip, you will be asked information such as your name and who you represent.  Rather than completing this information each time you file a slip, registering an account makes it simple because it remembers the information for you.

 

Once you have created your account, or if you prefer not to create an account, you may then file a witness slip. But how do you know what slips require your attention?  You may visit the facebook page for GunRights4Illinois or visit the Illinois State Rifle Association at member@isra.org . Also a great resource is  Illinois Carry. Through the various aforementioned organizations you WILL be notified about any proposed legislation that needs your attention.

Often a link will be provided in these notices. Typically a bill number will be provided in these notices. If a direct link is provided that makes it simple for you to find. If you only have a bill number, you will visit the my.ILGA website and browse through the committee hearings to find the bill or Amendment you are searching to find.

 

Step 2 – Creating the slip

Assuming you find the direct link and click it, you would be directed to the link requiring your attention. If you have an account, click the log on button in the upper right hand corner. If you don’t have an account begin by manually typing in your information.  Information such as Name and Address is self explanatory.

Information such as Firm/Business Agency does not apply if you are representing yourself, and you would simply input “Self”.  It is frowned upon to enter information such as “NRA” if you do not represent the NRA in an official capacity.   For Title, you can simply put N/A, or Mr. or Mrs.

IN the box regarding representation is somewhat redundant to firm.  If you are officially representing an organization or agency you would input that information in the box, however if you have no official representation, you would then be representing yourself.

Step 3 – Position

You will be allowed to enter your position to the proposed bill or amendment. Either for (Proponent), against (Opponent) or neutral (No Position). It is also extremely important that you use the drop down to select “original bill” or a specific amendment. Often there will be a good bill, but an anti gun politician will try to attach an anti gun amendment. It is important to know what you are opposing or supporting!

Step 4 – Testimony

You are given the option to give oral testimony. You would only select this box if you intend to drive to Springfield and give testimony infront of committee. You would select written statement if you have officially filed a written statement on the proposed bill. However in nearly all cases you would simply select “Record of Appearance Only” which simply records your official position on the bill or amendment.

You would then click on “Create Slip” and you will be done.

 

Often people will ask how much these witness slips really matter. While the slips don’t matter nearly as much as they should, they allow We the People to be heard. Also before each committee meeting the committee chair will state how many are for and how many are against the specific bill or amendment. Often politicians have remarked how quickly the pro gun rights crowd in Illinois is to mobilize on specific issues. These witness slips do matter! We can not always block bad bills in committee, but sometimes we can.

 

Major change to Illinois Non-Resident Concealed Carry Licensing Eligibility

Since Illinois passed the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing Act in 2013,  the words “substantially similar” have been tossed around and discussed. This is because within the Illinois law, any non resident’s state must have substantially similar gun laws and mental health reporting for that non-Illinois resident to be eligible for an Illinois Concealed Carry license.  Previous to the week of February 1st 2017, only Hawaii, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia met this definition of substantially similar.

However the Week of February 1st, the Illinois State Police announced a change to their list of qualifying states eligible for the Illinois Concealed Carry License.  This list now only includes Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia as listed on the Illinois State Police Firearm Services Bureau Website.  Only 54 non-resident licenses have been issued in Illinois since 2014.

It is unknown at this time what shall happen to those licensees who were previously issued licenses in Hawaii, New Mexico and South Carolina. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

The 100th General Assembly brings a Fury of Anti-Gun Legislation proposed in Illinos

The Illinois 100th General Assembly (State Representatives and Senators) were sworn in on January 11th, 2017. Immediately bills began to be filed of various topics, including your gun rights. Here we are 3 weeks later and we have a virtual shopping list of proposed anti gun legislation in Illinois.

True to the prediction of Todd Vandermyde, Liaison for the National Rifle Association in Illinois, the anti gun politicians and their financial backers know they won’t be able to get much of anything done at the federal level. Therefore they have focused their attention at the state and municipal levels. We can expect a non stop attack against our gun rights in Illinois.  The currently proposed anti gun legislation brings a multitude of taxes which will affect your ability to buy a firearm or take part in the shooting activities.

  • HB271 Handgun Ammo Serialize – This bill is  hold over from the 99th general assembly which went nowhere. It is an impractical bill which would require each and every bullet manufactured and sold in Illinois to have a unique serial number laser engraved. Other states have enacted such laws which have cost tax payers millions and done nothing to curb, nor solve crime.
  • HB329 Concealed Carry Prohibit Place – Adds video gaming establishments to the list of prohibited areas. Currently the only gambling establishments are horse and dog tracks as well as off track betting facilities and casinos. This also makes it illegal to carry a concealed firearm in ALL residences in Illinois unless a welcoming sign is posted.
  • HB504 FOID Card Terrorist Watchlist – Illinois very own “No Fly, No Buy”, which again is a hold over from the 99th general assembly and is a clear violation of due diligence guaranteed to us in the United States constitution.
  • HB521 Lost & Stolen Firearms Penalty – Creates a penalty if you do not report your firearm lost or stolen. This is similar to the penalty introduced by Cook County in 2013.
  • SB009 Amendment 2 – creates a 5% tax on shooting ranges, gun clubs, hunting clubs and just about any other recreational activity outside of the shooting sports within Illinois.
  • HB1810 TAX-FIREARMS – creates a 3.75% tax on firearms and firearm parts in Illinois.

Some of the above bills are currently scheduled to go to committee. Your opposition is required to ensure your continued gun rights in Illinois. 2017 is the year for you to get active and fight for your gun rights in Illinois. We can expect a non stop attack for at least the next 4 years. Don’t let down your guard.