Wednesday, August 29, 2012
One Illinois State's Attorney Just Says "No" To Harsh Illinois Gun Laws
There is a big change in enforcement of restrictive firearms laws in one Illinois county.
Illinois' McLean County State’s Attorney, Ronald C. Dozier, has taken a stand against enforcing certain Draconian Illinois gun laws. Announcing in his press release, with certain exceptions, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, “Will no longer enforce those parts of the following Illinois statutes relating to firearms:
Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (430 ILCS 65),
Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1),
Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6)
and provisions of any other statutes that appear to be in contravention of the Heller and McDonald decisions.”
Heavily weighing in his decision were the Second Amendment, and as he says, “The duty of a public prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.” Indeed, every prosecutor’s office has a duty to be a fair administrator of justice. That means for both victims and those accused of crimes.
Under the laws of all states, including Illinois, prosecuting attorneys use great discretion everyday when they decide to file charges or not. They also decide what charges to bring. They can also reduce charges or dismiss them.
A major consideration in his decision was the Heller decision. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense within the home.
Dozier said this of the Heller decision in his news release, “What has been the response of the State of Illinois to the Supreme Court? So far, the City of Chicago and the State have done everything possible to defy, obfuscate and ignore the Court’s substantive rulings. Illinois remains the only State in the Union to deny its citizens the legal right to “bear” firearms, either open or concealed, for personal defense. We are the only State to have a draconian FOID law that makes criminals out of ordinary citizens who have done nothing wrong except exercise their constitutional right to own a gun.
We have a law called “Unlawful Use of Weapons” which criminalizes people for merely possessing (not using or threatening to use) a firearm in the wrong place or wrong kind of container… What has been the response of the State of Illinois to the Supreme Court? So far, the City of Chicago and the State have done everything possible to defy, obfuscate and ignore the Court’s substantive rulings. Illinois remains the only State in the Union to deny its citizens the legal right to “bear” firearms, either open or concealed, for personal defense. We are the only State to have a draconian FOID law that makes criminals out of ordinary citizens who have done nothing wrong except exercise their constitutional right to own a gun...”
Dozier also stated “We also penalize citizens of neighboring states who possess or carry firearms in complete obedience to their state laws, but don’t stop at the border of Illinois and switch the guns and ammunition around to accommodate our more stringent firearm laws.
Even the courts in parts of this State refuse to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, going so far as to hold that the Second Amendment gives citizens only the right to keep and bear arms within our houses! Can any person honestly say he or she believes our forefathers intended the Second Amendment to allow U.S. citizens to protect themselves only while inside their houses?
Proponents of the status quo continue to argue that such laws as these are “reasonable”
restrictions on our Second Amendment rights. But as pointed out in McDonald, “Chicago Police Department statistics reveal that the City’s handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban [which was struck down by the Supreme Court] was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the Country and rates of other violent crimes that exceed the average in other comparable cities.”
In fact, the result of most gun control laws is that law-abiding citizens go defenseless while
criminal thugs are armed.
I believe these facts to be incontrovertible:
1) No State that has gone from no-carry to concealed-carry or open-carry of firearms has
experienced a significant increase in firearm violence.
2) Any evil or deranged person who is intent on killing others will find a way to do so, no
matter how strict our laws.
3) Murder is already against the law and carries very serious penalties. If that is not enough
to deter someone from committing the crime, why would they be deterred by laws against
4) The police can’t be everywhere to protect us. Only on rare occasions is a policeman
present to prevent a violent crime. Mostly they arrive after the fact, to investigate and
apprehend the offender if possible.
People who don’t like guns—who don’t want to own or carry a gun for protection, have the right to rely on the government to do that for them. They do not have the right to require everyone else to do so. The Supreme Court has so decided.
As the State’s Attorney, I have to make a choice. Do I continue to enforce laws that I believe to be unconstitutional, a belief that is supported by decisions of the highest court in the land, or do I continue to prosecute citizens who run afoul of State gun laws but have no evil intent or purpose in mind?
In fact, since I was appointed State’s Attorney last December, I have been quietly changing our policies to bring them in accordance with the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now I am announcing publicly that the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office will no longer enforce those parts of the following Illinois statutes relating to firearms: Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (430 ILCS 65), Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1), Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6) and provisions of any other statutes that appear to be in contravention of the Heller and McDonald decisions.
The questions we will seek to answer in determining whether or not to file charges are:
1) What appears to be the reason or purpose for the person’s possession of carrying a
2) Was the firearm actually displayed, or used, for an improper purpose or in a reckless
3) Was the person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or have illegal drugs on his or
her person or in their vehicle?
4) If the person is not an Illinois citizen, was the weapon possessed or carried in
accordance with the laws of the State of his or her residency?
5) Is the person a member of or affiliated with any gang known to engage in illegal
6) Has the person been convicted of a felony offense? If so, how long ago and for what
Other questions may arise as we continue to improve our policy.
At this point, I must remind everyone that I am just the State’s Attorney of McLean County and can only enforce the laws within McLean County. I am not urging anyone to disregard the laws of the State of Illinois or of the Federal government with regard to firearms. The penalties for doing so can be very harsh. Additionally, I have no right and no intention of telling local law enforcement agencies when or under what circumstances to make arrests for firearms offenses.
Officer safety must remain the highest priority, and departmental policies must be followed.
My purpose is to send a message to the Governor and legislators of this State who continue to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and who continue to oppose reasonable legislation that would bring Illinois into compliance with the Second Amendment. I know that other State’s Attorneys share my views and am hoping they will join in this effort.
Our message is this: we will no longer use the power and authority of our office to criminalize and punish decent, otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise the rights granted to them by the Second Amendment of the United States’ Constitution to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their families.
Ronald C. Dozier
McLean County State’s Attorney”
Reaction to Dozier’s decision has been as expected. That reaction ranges from legal experts saying that he is within his rights not to prosecute to the assertion that the NRA is too powerful and that Dozier has overstepped his bounds. Apparently, so far, no anti gun rights groups have weighed in on the Prosecutor’s decision. But, that is surely coming with attempts to remove him from office.
However, the final judge on his decision will be the voters of McLean County, Illinois. Dozier said it best above, “The primary check or balance on the power and authority of the State’s Attorney is the power of the people to vote him or her out of office.”
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