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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2022 ‘State Right to Bear Arms in Illinois.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 19 May

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State Right to Bear Arms in Illinois

Illinois law provides for the keeping and bearing of arms, but permits broad local regulation of firearms for public health and safety purposes. Article I, § 22 of the Illinois Constitution provides, "Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

In June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments in addition to the federal government.1 In so ruling, the Court reversed a Seventh Circuit decision that affirmed the dismissal of Second Amendment challenges to handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. This right, as first delineated in District of Columbia v. Heller, guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. State and local laws that do not burden this right are constitutional. With this qualification, existing federal and state case law in Illinois provide support for most other broad gun regulations under art. I, § 22.

In Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, the federal Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected an art. I, § 22 challenge to a local ordinance (No. 81-11) prohibiting the possession of handguns within the Village's borders. The court affirmed the trial court decision upholding the ordinance, finding in relevant part, "that the right to keep and bear arms in Illinois is so limited by the police power that a ban on handguns does not violate that right." The court went on to note that:

[S]ection 22 simply prohibits an absolute ban on all firearms….There is no right under the Illinois Constitution to possess a handgun, nor does the state have an overriding state interest in gun control which requires it to retain exclusive control….Once a local government identifies a problem and enacts legislation to mitigate or eliminate it, that enactment is presumed valid and may be overturned only if it is unreasonable, clearly arbitrary, and has no foundation in the police power.

Therefore, since Morton Grove presented "at least some empirical evidence" that gun control legislation may reduce deaths and accidents caused by handguns, the court held that the ordinance was a valid exercise of the Village's police power.

The Supreme Court of Illinois reached the same conclusion as the Quilici court in Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove, which also involved a challenge to Ordinance 81-11. The state supreme court concluded that art. I, § 22 permits extensive regulation of firearms under the state's police power and the municipal home rule power, including prohibitions on a particular class of firearms. The court upheld the Village's ordinance, finding that it "bears a rational relation to the goal of reducing weapons-related injuries and accidents."…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

ID: Q8233

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