Each year in Illinois, we expect new gun legislation that will negatively affect lawful gun owners. But for a variety of reasons, including the effect of the pandemic on our legislators in Springfield, little was done regarding new gun legislation in 2020. In essence, our state government shut down in March 2020, and little if any new legislation was passed. That being said, let’s take a look at legislation that went into effect last year and issues facing gun owners in 2021.
New Legislation in Illinois
The Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, 430 ILCS 68, which took effect January 18, 2020, requires those who hold a firearm dealer license to have alarm monitoring systems in their places of business. Additionally, it requires an electronic-based record system to keep track of inventory changes and sales. By January 2, 2021, any license holder running a retail location was required to have a video security system in place.
Upcoming Concerns in 2021
Mask Restrictions While Carrying
Many gun owners in Illinois are concerned about the possible restrictions of carrying while wearing a mask. In Illinois, it is a Class 4 felony to wear a mask while carrying a gun. 720 ILCS 24-1(a)(9). However, pursuant to Governor Pritzker’s executive order entered on April 30, 2020, requiring face coverings to be worn in public, there were concerns about concealed carry licensees carrying while wearing face coverings. In response to the executive order, the Illinois State Police stated, “The order was not intended to negatively impact permit holders under the Illinois Concealed Carry Act while legally carrying firearms.” Almost all local police departments and prosecutors have agreed not to charge concealed carry licensees who are wearing face coverings, as long as they are not violating any other laws. This exception is intended to allow people to comply with the mandate for face coverings in public.
At this time, we do not know when the executive order will terminate and the restriction on carrying while wearing a mask will be in effect once again.
Expiration and Renewals of FOID Cards and CCLs
Another effect of the pandemic on gun ownership in Illinois is expiration or renewal of a Firearm Owners Identification (“FOID”) card and Concealed Carry License (“CCL”). The Illinois State Police issued new emergency rules pertaining to expired FOID cards and CCLs during the COVID-19 disaster period (which is still in effect as of the writing of this article). License holders who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation for a period of 18 months following termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration. CCL holders will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 18 months following the termination of the state’s disaster proclamation to maintain the validity of their CCL.
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
Should you have any questions about the bills discussed or the legislative process, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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