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Right to Bear Arms: Illinois Rules Age Restriction on Gun Possession Does Not Violate the Second Amendment

January 16th, 2015 at 7:31 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, gun lawsGun crimes are one of the most contentious types of crimes there are in our society. On one hand gun, violence kills far too many members of our society, particularly young people. On the other hand, our constitution give us the right to bear arms. Issues of gun control seem to come up on both the state and federal level each year. Now the Illinois court of appeals has issued an important decision that seems to prioritize the need for gun control over the constitutional right to possess a gun.

Illinois Court Rules Against 18-Year Old’s Right to Bear Arms

The Illinois Court of Appeals recently addressed whether an 18-year-old has a right to bear arms that is protected by the Second Amendment. The case is called People v. Fields. The State charged Demonte Fields with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW). Ultimately the trial court convicted Fields after a bench trial and sentenced him to probation. Fields appealed, arguing that his conviction should be vacated because the statute prohibiting the possession of a handgun while under 21 years of age is unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals did not agree, and it upheld his conviction.

Fields was charged with AUUW because he was alleged to have, while not on his own land or in his own abode or fixed place of business, knowingly carried a firearm while he was under 21 years of age. In a previous case, People v. Aguilar, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Illinois’ flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside of the home was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Fields used this case to argue that the statute under which is was convicted is also unconstitutional. He claimed that as an 18-year-old at the time of the offense, he is a member of the community and guaranteed rights under the second amendment.

Court Compares 18-Year Olds to Felons and the Mentally Ill

The Court disagreed with Fields. In its opinion it explained that the courts have long said that the right to bear arms is subject to long-standing categorical prohibitions like prohibitions on the rights of felons and the mentally ill when it comes to possessing guns. It then wrote, “[D]efendant contends 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old adults are part of the virtuous citizenry and cannot be categorically disarmed like convicted felons, children, or the mentally ill. We disagree.” It went on to explain that the 21-year age limit is historically supported. It determined that people between ages 18 and 20 are less responsible and mature than other adults and that protecting the public and police officers by denying this group firearms protects a substantial or important government interest. It also decided that 18 to 20-year-olds can be discriminated against when it comes to Second Amendment rights because of the age group’s alleged high risk of being involved in gang activity. As a result, these non-felon, non-mentally ill adults can be convicted of a serious crime if they possess a gun in public in Illinois. It remains to be seen whether the Illinois Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court will address this ruling.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation. Whether its a traffic matter or a serious felony, we can help.

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