The Firearm Concealed Carry Act
The Firearm Concealed Carry Act
By officially enacting legislation this past summer, Illinois ended its reign as the sole remaining state that refused its citizens the right to carry concealed firearms. The Firearm Concealed Carry Act (“FCCA”), codified at 430 ILCS 66, became Illinois law on July 9, 2013. Regardless of officers’ individual opinions regarding concealed carry for citizens, the FCCA is now the law of the land and all Illinois law enforcement officers must uphold its provisions. While the right to carry concealed firearms has been clearly established, law enforcement officers must continue to educate themselves about this new statute and its implications for officer-citizen encounters.
A Brief Overview of Key Provisions of the FCCA
The statute provides that the Department of State Police shall be responsible for issuing concealed carry licenses and it defines a concealed firearm as 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.” 430 ILCS 66/5. Essentially, the concealed carry of handguns is authorized for licensees but the FCCA does not allow for open carry of firearms or for the carrying of rifles or shotguns. The law also establishes numerous exceptions where licensees will be prohibited from carrying concealed handguns. These include but are not limited to; public or private elementary and secondary schools, pre-schools and child care facilities, government buildings, jails, prisons, and correctional facilities, Cook County Forest Preserve District Property, any location that serves alcohol and gains more than half of its receipts from its sale, as well as stadiums, arenas, zoos, libraries, amusement parks, airports, and gaming establishments.430 ILCS 66/65(a).
In addition, private property owners may prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on their property provided they post a sign required under the statute indicating that firearms are prohibited on their property. 430 ILCS 66/65(a-10). Lastly, any licensee can carry on his or person inside their vehicle, a concealed firearm into the parking area of a prohibited location, and may then store the firearm concealed in a case in the locked vehicle outside of plain view. To accomplish this, the law provides that the licensee must unload the firearm before exiting the vehicle and then may carry the firearm in the immediate area surrounding the vehicle in order to store or retrieve the firearm from the vehicle’s trunk. 430 ILCS 66/65(b).
Implications for Officer-Citizen Encounters
As a result of the passage of the FCCA, the Illinois State Police will make applications for concealed carry licenses available to the public by January 5, 2014 and they shall issue or deny the permits within 90 days. Officers hopefully can expect to undergo or may have already undertaken detailed legal and tactical training from their respective departments to address concealed carry in Illinois. Knowledge of this new law is critical as even a simple reading of the statute demonstrates that there are numerous statutory elements that must be satisfied to successfully carry a concealed firearm, as well as numerous locations where concealed carry is prohibited.
Officer-citizen encounters must focus on safety first and foremost, but officers must possess a detailed knowledge of the law in order to effectively respond to situations where licensed concealed firearms are involved. The average citizen in Illinois will not be as versed in the law as a responding officer or even a concealed carry licensee. The mere glimpse of a handgun in someone’s possession, in any location, is likely to result in a slew of 911 calls reporting a “man with a gun.” Now, consider how you would handle the aftermath of that call, when the individual was licensed to carry, obeying the law in every aspect, but was simply observed securing his handgun in his trunk as required. You would have to provide a lot of detailed explanation to concerned citizens before you could simply clear from that call.
It is imperative that officers must have detailed knowledge of the FCCA to understand when a licensee has violated its provisions, as well as how to inform unknowing citizens, including property and business owners, what the law allows. Officers can expect that carrying firearms will continue to be a hot button issue and the public may be slow to adapt. Outside of the obvious tactical concerns of responding to situations where concealed firearms are involved, officers must have a solid working knowledge of Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
The Law Offices of Daniel Q. Herbert and Associates believes that a detailed knowledge of the law is the sign of dedicated law enforcement professionals. Knowing the law helps protect the public you serve and is an excellent method to prevent being involved in litigation. It protects you and your family. Law enforcement officers needing legal assistance or advice related to their employment can contact us at www.danherbertlaw.com or via phone at (312) 655-7660.