A common thought is that it is illegal for kids to have guns. But is it true? Jurisdictions and circumstances would dictate the legality of a child being in possession of a firearm, but in Illinois in general it is not illegal for kids to have guns.
One considering giving access of a firearm to a minor must be aware of the laws governing when this may be legal. When in doubt, legal advice should be sought from an attorney. This article is not legal advise, nor is the author an attorney. However the information found within this writing has been gathered from various Illinois laws which govern firearm possession (linked below).
Many gun owners would tell you that you should teach a child young, to respect a firearm. After all we teach our children not to play with knives or lighters or stick things in electrical sockets. I will tell you that even if you are against the thought of owning a gun you should teach your child basic firearms safety rules.
Tell an Adult.
The NRA‘s mantra is the same but also advocates running away before telling an adult. However I believe that this may cause a child to fear a firearm, rather than respecting it, and not all situations warrant a child running away. But onto what the law of Illinois says in regards to a child having a gun…
If we look at the compiled statute for the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Act (FOID Act) we can see when it is or is not legal for a child to have a gun.
The Illinois Criminals Code as well as the FOID Act state who can and can not posses a firearm in Illinois. Section 2 of the FOID Act discusses exemptions to person who are required to have an Illinois Firearm Owners ID card.
The provisions of this Section regarding the possession of firearms, firearm ammunition, stun guns, and tasers do not apply to:
…(11) Unemancipated minors while in the custody and
immediate control of their parent or legal guardian or other person in loco parentis to the minor if the parent or legal guardian or other person in loco parentis to the minor has a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card;
Lay-man’s translation: A child may posess a firearm if they are in the custody of an adult who does have a FOID card. The FOID Act does goes on to state delinquent minors may not possess firearms.
Sec. 24-9. Firearms; Child Protection.
(a) Except as provided in subsection (c), it is unlawful for any person to store or leave, within premises under his or her control, a firearm if the person knows or has reason to believe that a minor under the age of 14 years who does not have a Firearm Owners Identification Card is likely to gain access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parent, guardian, or person having charge of the minor, and the minor causes death or great bodily harm with the firearm, unless the firearm is:
(1) secured by a device or mechanism, other than the
firearm safety, designed to render a firearm temporarily inoperable; or
(2) placed in a securely locked box or container; or
(3) placed in some other location that a reasonable
person would believe to be secure from a minor under the age of 14 years.
Lay-man’s translation: Don’t leave a firearm accessible to children. Any responsible gun owner would likely agree. However if your child has a FOID card, then they may have access to a firearm. For what it is worth the FOID ACT did not state a minimum age of which a person may obtain a FOID card. Any age may obtain a FOID card. See also What is the Age Requirement for a FOID Card?
The Illinois Criminal code also states that the gun owner who leaves his firearm accessible to a child under the age of 14 will be criminally liable.
(b) Sentence. A person who violates this Section is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $1,000. A second or subsequent violation of this Section is a Class A misdemeanor.
However, the criminal code also exempts minors who use the firearm in a lawful act of self defense.
(c) Subsection (a) does not apply:
(1) if the minor under 14 years of age gains access
to a firearm and uses it in a lawful act of self-defense or defense of another;
Please direct any questions regarding law to your criminal defense attorney. The above is not to be considered legal advice. If you do not have an attorney, feel free to leave a comment and a referral may be provided.