Waiting in the wings for SCOTUS: Ruling in Illinois case that invalidated state's Firearms Owner's Identity card requirement

Up until now, there has been little to no national attention paid to a judge's ruling in White County, Illinois that voided the state's requirement that firearms-owners obtain a state-issued Firearms Owner's Identity Card (FOID) in order to legally own a firearm kept in the home.  The case is now headed for the Illinois Supreme Court, and Second Amendment Civil Rights advocates hope the case will end up before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Greg Bishop of the Illinois Radio Network reports:

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said the case out of White County involved a disabled woman who had a single-shot .22 caliber rifle.

"The judge in White County said the FOID card is unconstitutional in the home," Pearson said. "So that's where we stand today and the state of Illinois doesn't agree to that."

Vivian Claudine Brown of Carmi did not have a criminal record and would have been eligible to have a FOID card. On March 18, 2017, Brown's husband, who she was separated from, alleged Brown was shooting a gun inside, according to court documents. Police found no evidence the rifle had been fired in the residence. However, Brown was later charged with possession of a firearm without the required FOID card, a class A misdemeanor.

"Are you prohibited from having a FOID card? The judge said 'I don't think so,'" Pearson said. "She didn't do a thing wrong except wanting to defend her own life."

The case now bypasses the appellate court because it deals with constitutional issues, Pearson said. If the state Supreme Court agrees with the White County judge's decision, Pearson said it means people could keep a firearm in the home without a FOID card.

"The problem, of course, is if you have to transfer it to and from and that was not covered in this case, so you'd still need a FOID card," Pearson said.

Pearson doesn't expect the case to be heard until at least October, if not later.

The Illinois Attorney General's office argued the circuit court's ruling missed the mark.

"But both this Court and the United States Supreme Court have held that the kinds of regulations found in the FOID Card Act — e.g., preventing felons or people from mental illnesses from possessing firearms — are the sorts of meaningful regulations permitted under the Second Amendment," the Illinois State's Attorney's Office wrote in court documents.

The defendant didn't have a criminal record, and Pearson said she was not a person who could fit into any of the "prohibited categories."

If the Illinois Supreme Court overturns the circuit court's ruling, Pearson said his group is ready to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of course, there is no guarantee that SCOTUS would agree to hear the case.  But the Court has shown an interest in affirming that the Second Amendment rights are not inferior to those in the other amendments in the Bill of Rights.

Graphic credit: KTVL.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol.

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