Guns within 1000 ft of public park law ruled unconstitutional

Defendants who have been charged or convicted of unlawful use of weapons charges involving firearms within 1000 feet of a public park (and potentially some other locations) could have their cases overturned or dismissed based upon the new Illinois Supreme Court ruling in People v. Chairez, 2018 IL 121417.

The Illinois Supreme Court held in People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116 that portions of the law concerning unlawful use of weapons, 720 ILCS 5/24-1, were unconstitutional. In legal terms, sections of Unlawful Use of Weapons/Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons law were declared v”oid ab initio”. The Aguilar decision was followed by People v. Mosley, 2015 IL 115872.

According to 725 ILCS 5/24-1(c)(1.5),

A person who [commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons] on any public way (road) within 1000 feet of real property comprising any school, public park, courthouse, public transportation facility, or residential property owned, operated, or managed by a public housing agency or leased by a public housing agency as part of a scattered site or mixed-income development commits a Class 3 felony.

Chairez specifically held that possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a public park was unconstitutional based upon intermediate scrutiny. The Illinois Supreme Court held that Chairez was a facial challenge to the statute, and that the statute violated a Defendant’s core 2nd Amendment right to possess a firearm with respect to parks, but reserved ruling on the other locations. However, the logic of Chairez can be easily extended. One of the primary issues is that there is no notice for what is a public park. Similarly, 1000 feet is a substantial distance for schools, public transportation facilities, and public housing agencies in an urban location. I suspect a map with overlapping circles in Chicago would cause almost every area to be within 1000 feet of a school, courthouse, public transportation facility, or public housing agency property. After all, a “public transportation facility” could potentially include every subway station in Chicago. That would prevent any meaningful exercise of a Defendant’s Second Amendment rights.

Here is a freehand drawn map of only the first page of Chicago schools listed on Google. There are many more pages of schools. As you can see from the number of schools, it would be nearly impossible to move in Chicago without violating the law in some manner.

Areas within 1000 feet of Chicago Schools

A similar map appears if you draw a 1000 foot circle around every “M” public transportation facility. Urban density makes it impossible for the Second Amendment rights to be exercised.

Locations where I suspect there is a stronger probability that it is still permissible to restrict firearms include near courthouses. Comparatively speaking, it is less likely that the prohibition against firearms at public transportation facilities or public housing agency property  will survive a direct challenge.

As when Aguilar and Mosley were decided, it seems likely that future post-conviction petitions alleging the unlawful use of weapons/aggravated unlawful use of weapons (UUW/AGG UUW) statute as applied to parks is unconstitutional will be successful. People who have been convicted of the charge in Kane, Kendall, Will or DuPage Counties should highly consider retaining an attorney to vacate their previous convictions by contacting us.


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