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What Does Unlawful Use of Weapons Mean in Illinois?The term “unlawful use of weapons” is somewhat misleading. In Illinois, you do not have to be actively using the weapon in order to be charged with unlawful use. More often, people are arrested for possessing the weapon after a police officer has stopped them due to allegedly criminal or suspicious behavior. Actively using a weapon is a different criminal charge in Illinois, such as aggravated discharge of a firearm or armed violence. A charge of unlawful use of weapons can be a felony depending on the type of weapon you have, where you were found with it, and whether you have previous weapons charges.

Unlawful Use and Aggravated Unlawful Use

Illinois residents are allowed to carry certain weapons, such as a handgun, as long as they have a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card and a Concealed Carry License (CCL). However, there are some weapons that are illegal to possess, such as switchblades, machine guns, and explosives. It is also illegal to bring a weapon into many public places, including schools, government buildings, and places of worship. These violations are classified as unlawful use of weapons because there is often an assumption that the suspect intended to use the weapon.

A charge of aggravated unlawful use of weapons occurs when there are other elements to the offense, such as:

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Illinois Changing Limits of Concealed Carry Gun LawIllinois’ concealed carry weapons law allows licensed gun owners to carry a gun for the purpose of self-protection. However, there is also a long list of places where guns are prohibited, even if you have a license to carry one. It is a criminal offense to knowingly possess a weapon when entering public properties such as schools, parks, and courthouses. In some cases, possessing a weapon within 1,000 feet of specified properties can be against the law. In the past year, Illinois courts have dismantled some of the concealed carry restrictions that were deemed to have violated people’s Second Amendment rights.

Recent Rulings

The Illinois Supreme Court made the first significant ruling when hearing the case of People v. Chairez in February 2018. In the case, the defendant petitioned to throw out his conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public park on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. Both an Illinois circuit court and the Supreme Court agreed that the law put an undue burden on the defendant.

The February ruling was limited to public parks but set a precedent for cases involving other properties that banned weapons possession within 1,000 feet. In June 2018, an appellate court overturned a defendant’s conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public school, citing the earlier Supreme Court ruling.

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