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Transporting a Gun into Illinois

In the case of THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee, v. LEONARD HOLMES, JR., Docket No. 109130 the Illinois Supreme Court has was faced with a case wherein Holmes, an Indiana resident with a valid Indiana handgun permit, was charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW): one count for carrying an "uncased, loaded, and immediately accessible" firearm in his vehicle, and the other for carrying a firearm in his vehicle without having been issued a currently valid FOID Card. The charges arose out of a traffic stop in Chicago, where police found a handgun in the armrest of the backseat of defendant's vehicle. That armrest was closed and latched at the time. The gun was unloaded, although the clip was in defendant's pocket.

Extending the Court's recent decision in People v. Diggins, 235 Ill. 2d 48 (2009) holding that a vehicle's center console is a case, defendant's conviction under the first count could not stand because the backseat arm rest fell within the meaning of a "case" under the statute. There was no dispute that the armrest was closed and latched, and thus the gun was enclosed in a case.

As to the second count, the Court concluded that the AUUW statute must be read in conjunction with the FOID Card Act to determine whether defendant was exempt from having a valid FOID Card because he had a valid Indiana handgun permit. The Court went on to hold that the provision in the FOID Card Act - excepting "nonresidents who are currently licensed or registered to possess a firearm in their resident state" [430 ILCS 65/2 (b)(10)] from the requirement of having a FOID Card in order to acquire or possess a firearm within Illinois - should be applied to the AUUW statute. Defendant's Indiana permit substituted for the FOID Card requirement under the AUUW statute.

Both of defendant's convictions of AUUW were reversed. The reversal of the first count was a fairly predictable result in light of the recent Diggins case. The reversal of the second count, however, appears to have dealt with an issue of first impression in Illinois. The Court's decision, and Justice Garman's special concurrence, clarify that the FOID Card Act is to be read in conjunction with provisions of the Criminal Code referencing FOID Card requirements in order to give full effect to the intent of the legislature and to avoid absurd results.

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