Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Illinois Supreme Court Voids Firearm Exclusion Zone Around Public Parks

Friday, February 2, 2018

Illinois Supreme Court Voids Firearm Exclusion Zone Around Public Parks

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state prohibition on firearm possession within 1,000 feet of a public park violates the Second Amendment. The case is People v. Chairez.

Chairez pleaded guilty in 2013 to possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of Virgil Gilman Trail, a public park in Aurora, IL. He later sought to void the conviction, arguing that the state’s 1,000 foot exclusion zones around various public places essentially amounted to a ban on carrying firearms in public, a right that has been expressly recognized by Illinois’ high court.

In resolving the case, the justices limited their consideration to the exclusion zone around public parks, as that was the only such zone implicated by Chairez’s own conviction. 

The court noted that whether or not the exclusion zone itself – rather than the actual park – could be considered a “sensitive place,” it still had to conduct a Second Amendment analysis. In other words, the court found that language in District of Columbia of Columbia v. Heller deeming restrictions on certain “sensitive places” to be “presumptively lawful” did not conclusively exempt restrictions in those places from some sort of scrutiny under the Second Amendment.

The court applied what it called a “sliding scale of intermediate scrutiny” standard of review, taking into account how closely and pervasively the restriction affects the core right of self-defense and whose rights are implicated. 

It answered the first question by noting that the contested restriction covers “vast number of public areas across the state,” particularly in urban locales. Within those areas, moreover, the restriction amounts to an outright ban on carrying usable firearms for self-defense.

Answering the second question, the court found the prohibition provided no exception for law-abiding individuals.

It, therefore, characterized the restriction’s burden on Second Amendment rights as “severe” and subject to “elevated intermediate scrutiny analysis.” This requires the state to show a very strong public-interest justification and a close fit between the government’s means and its end, as well as proving that the “public’s interests are strong enough to justify so substantial an encumbrance on individual Second Amendment rights.”  

The court found that the state failed to offer any “useful statistics or empirically supported conclusions” to justify its asserted public safety rational for the contested gun ban. “Without specific data or other meaningful evidence,” Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote, “we see no direct correlation between the information the State provides and its assertion that a 1000-foot firearm ban around a public park protects children, as well as other vulnerable persons, from firearm violence.”

The court also rejected the idea that the ban was not overly burdensome because there were still other places in the state where the individuals could exercise their right to bear arms in public. On this point, the court reiterated a prior holding that emphasized constitutional rights must be respected in all parts of the state, including in densely-populated cities like Chicago, which alone has more than 600 parks. It further noted that the ban could swiftly transform innocent behavior “into culpable conduct if an individual unknowingly crosses into a[n unmarked] firearm restriction zone.” The result could “create a chilling effect on the second amendment when an otherwise law-abiding individual may inadvertently violate the 1000-foot firearm-restricted zones by just turning a street corner.”

Along with the Ohio case we report on separately this week, Chairez provides an encouraging example of the possibilities of courts treating the right to keep and bear arms as the fundamental civil right the U.S. Supreme Court has already deemed it to be. In this respect, state courts may actually be more in tune with this constitutional provision than their counterparts in the lower federal courts.

While the Chairez opinion did not explicitly cover other exclusion zones – including those around schools, courthouses, public transportation facilities, or public housing agency residential units – it sets a high standard for the state’s justification of those prohibitions. It may well be that Illinois residents will soon find many more areas of the state accessible to them as they exercise the constitutional right to bear arms.

TRENDING NOW
Illinois Committee Passes Bill to Increase Cost of FOID 1000

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Illinois Committee Passes Bill to Increase Cost of FOID 1000

On May 21st, the Illinois state House Judiciary Committee voted 12-7 to pass House Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 1966.  While it has not yet been scheduled for further action, the House may take it ...

Washington: Lawsuit Against I-1639 Proceeds After Motion To Dismiss Denied

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Washington: Lawsuit Against I-1639 Proceeds After Motion To Dismiss Denied

On May 20th, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington rejected a motion by the government defendants to dismiss the lawsuit filed by NRA and the SAF against Washington’s gun control ...

New Federal Law Will Promote Target Range Development on Public Lands

News  

Friday, May 24, 2019

New Federal Law Will Promote Target Range Development on Public Lands

On May 10, President Trump signed the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act  into law. This NRA-backed law will help promote firearm safety and training and enjoyment of the shooting sports by freeing up more federal ...

California: DOJ Submits Proposed Regulations Regarding Upcoming Ammunition Transfer Background Check Requirements to Office of Administrative Law

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

California: DOJ Submits Proposed Regulations Regarding Upcoming Ammunition Transfer Background Check Requirements to Office of Administrative Law

Beginning July 1, 2019, all ammunition transactions in the state of California will be subject to a background check requirement.  But in order to implement this requirement, the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) must first ...

Kamala Harris and the News Media Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

News  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Kamala Harris and the News Media Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

By now gun owners have become accustomed to a certain measure of ignorance from anti-gun politicians and their lapdogs in the mainstream press on matters of firearms policy. It’s the flamboyant stridency of that ignorance that remains ...

Democrats Now Opposed to Safe Neighborhoods?

News  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Democrats Now Opposed to Safe Neighborhoods?

Ever since taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats have been waging an unprecedented assault on the Second Amendment. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.), the caucus has been an entity in virtual ...

Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

At the National Retail Federation’s 2018 convention in New York City, Levi Strauss & Co. Brand President James Curleigh told those assembled that the multinational pants manufacturer intends to be the “most relevant lifestyle brand.” Evidently, part ...

Bloomberg Course Continues Bloomberging Rights Away

News  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bloomberg Course Continues Bloomberging Rights Away

Week two of the Bloomberg school massive open online course on “Reducing Gun Violence” ran the same week that one of the lecturers was in the news for exclusionary comments that apply more readily to his course ...

Working Together to Save the Second Amendment Part II: State Success Stories

News  

Hunting  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Working Together to Save the Second Amendment Part II: State Success Stories

When I started with NRA in 1995, most of the attention our organization received was over legislative efforts in Congress. Firearm-related legislation at the federal level obviously has an impact on far more law-abiding gun ...

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox reported in March, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a challenge by an NRA state affiliate to a New York City gun control scheme that effectively prohibits lawfully ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.