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Chicago, IL — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”—Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Since 1968, residents of Illinois have been required to pay a fee to obtain a firearm owner’s identification card under the FOID Card Act. However, on Tuesday, an Illinois Circuit Court judge out of White County has ruled that law unconstitutional.
The ruling, by Judge T. Scott Webb, was made in Illinois v. Vivian Claudine Brown. The case stemmed from a 2017 incident where the White County Sheriff’s Office found a firearm in Brown’s home, but Brown did not have a FOID card. Brown was, however, found to be eligible for a FOID card.
“If the right to bear arms and self-defense are truly core rights, there should be no burden on the citizenry to enjoy those rights, especially within the confines and privacy of their own homes,” Webb wrote in his opinion. “A citizen’s Second Amendment rights should not be treated in the same manner as a driver’s license.”
Webb added: “Unfortunately, the State of Illinois, through the FOID Card Act, doesn’t recognize a citizen’s Second Amendment Right to armed self-defense within the privacy of their home, unless and until they can pay the $10 fee, provide a photograph, and demonstrate that they don’t meet any of the litany of disqualifying criteria. In the eyes of this Court, the entire process is inverted. The burden should be on the state.”
The charges against Brown had previously been dismissed by the circuit court, but the State of Illinois appealed it to the Illinois Supreme Court which sent it back down to the circuit court. Illinois could again appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court.
In his ruling, Webb described the Bill of Rights as “a limiting instrument.”
“It limits the powers of the government while upholding and protecting the rights of citizenry,” Webb wrote. “It is ground zero for the convergence of order and liberty. Order and liberty are inextricably bound together. For where order ends, liberty becomes a chaotic show of strength where only the strongest can survive and therefore, self-destruct. Conversely, where liberty ends, order becomes tyranny.”
Webb cited several U.S. Supreme Court decisions and stated this case not only regarded one’s right to gun ownership but also their right to self-defense and privacy.
In a 5-4 ruling in 2008 under District of Columbia v. Heller, the nation’s high court found that Second Amendment and self-defense rights are “embodied as individual rights.” In 2010, the court’s ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago found that state and local governments could not ban ownership of guns.
Additionally, a 7-2 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court found that privacy rights in one’s home are inherent under Griswold v. Connecticut.
“Self-defense within one’s home should be honored and revered as nowhere else on Earth…. The framers of our Constitution recognized that our homes are sacred escapes from unwanted intrusions,” Webb wrote. “In most circumstances, even the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before they can enter the sacred sanctuary of one’s home to investigate unlawful activity.”
Webb added: “This (FOID) act makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens who are attempting to protect their lives within their homes.”
Beyond the requirement to obtain a FOID card, the Illinois State Police (ISP) has been unable to process applications in a timely manner which led to a lawsuit last year by the Illinois State Rifle Association. The FOID Act requires applications be approved or denied within 30 days, but last year the ISP admitted wait times of nearly 100 days. In response to its failure, the ISP released a partisan statement blaming the previous governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, for not providing them enough tax dollars while praising the tax and spend measures by current Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
This Illinois Circuit Court ruling comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take up a Second Amendment case in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. That case could determine if the Second Amendment rights extend beyond the home as it will challenge a requirement to receive a government-issued permit to conceal carry in public.
Through all the trampling of civil liberties over the last year under COVID-19 tyranny, could this civil liberty issue provide a much needed win for liberty-loving Americans?
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