This site will examine cases where courts ruled that laws unconstitutionally infringed on the rights of citizens.
People v. Webb, 2019 IL 122951
Isiah J. Webb (defendant) was charged with a misdemeanor for violating section 24-1(a)(4) of the Unlawful Use of Weapons statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4) (West 2016) after he was found in possession of a stun gun while he sat in his vehicle on a public road. People v. Webb, 2019 IL 122951, ¶ 3. Ronald A. Greco (defendant) was also charged with violating section 24-1(a)(4) of the statute for possessing a stun gun on public property. Id. Section 24-1(a)(4) of the UUW statute made it illegal to possess a stun gun/taser in a public place or in a vehicle. Id. at ¶ 1.
The defendants filed motions in Dupage County Circuit Court to have their charges thrown out arguing that section 24-1(a)(4) of the UUW violated the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution by entirely prohibiting stun guns/tasers in public areas. Id. The court sided with both defendants and stated that stun guns/tasers are shielded by the Second Amendment. Id.at ¶ 4. It further noted that section 24-1(a)(4) constituted an outright prohibition of stun guns/tasers and was not merely a lawful regulation of the weapons as the State contended. Id. In sum, the court ruled that the prohibition was unconstitutional in accordance with People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116, and People v. Mosley, 2015 IL 115872. Id. The court reasoned: “Given the similarities in the nature and purpose of firearms and stun guns or tasers as instruments of personal self-defense, * * * stun guns/tasers are entitled to a least as much protection under the Second Amendment as that afforded firearms, particularly since stun guns are by their specific nature far less lethal than firearms. Id. The court further explained, “because stun guns and tasers are akin to firearms for purposes of Second Amendment analysis, because the Firearm Concealed Carry Act does not apply as a defense to stun gun or taser possession, and because the constitutional analysis in Aguilar and Mosley applies to the similar language of the offense at issue here, * * * the portion of 720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4) relating to the ban on stun guns and tasers constitutes an unconstitutional infringement of the rights of citizens to bear arms under the Second Amendment.” Id. The State appealed the court’s rulings to the Illinois Supreme Court. Id.
The issue is whether section 24-1(a)(4) of the UUW statute is unconstitutional. Id.at ¶ 6.
Stun guns/tasers are protected by the Second Amendment and therefore cannot be entirely prohibited in public. Id.at ¶ 21.
The Court affirmed the circuit court’s rulings. Id.at ¶ 23.
24-1(a)(4) of the UUW statute states the following:
“(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
* * *
(4) Carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode, legal dwelling, or fixed place of business, or on the land or in the legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection (a) (4)does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:
* * *
(iv) are carried or possessed in accordance with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act by a person who has been issued a currently valid license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act[.]” 720 ILCS 5/24- 1(a)(4)(iv) (West 2016).” Id. at ¶ 6-7.
The Court made it clear that stun guns/tasers are indeed protected by the Second Amendment: “Stun guns and tasers may be taken into one’s hands and used both for defense or ‘to cast at or strike another.’ Clearly, stun guns and tasers are bearable arms within the meaning of the second amendment. People v. Yanna, 824 N.W.2d 241, 244 (Mich. Ct. App. 2012).” Id. at ¶ 11. The Court noted that the State agreed with the notion that stun guns/tasers fell within the scope of the Second Amendment. Id. at ¶ 13.
However, the State argued the circuit court erred in finding that section 24-1(a)(4) of the UUW statute constituted an outright prohibition of stun guns/tasers in public. Id. at ¶ 14. The State contended that section 24-1(a)(4) was a permissible regulation of stun guns/tasers in public. Id. In support of its argument, the State pointed out that Section 24-1(a)(4)(iv) of the UUW statute made an exception for weapons “carried or possessed in accordance with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act by a person who has been issued a currently valid license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.” 720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4)(iv) (West 2016). Id. at ¶ 15. Therefore, if an individual obtained a concealed carry license for a handgun and then carried a concealed stun gun/taser and followed the regulations of the Carry Act, she would be possessing the stun gun/taser in “accordance” with the Carry Act. Id. at ¶ 16. Thus, this possession would be lawful according to the UUW statute. Id.
The Court rejected the State’s argument by explaining that in interpreting a statute, precedence is given to the intent of the legislature and the Court presumes the legislature did not intend “absurd” results: “In our view, the most natural reading of the requirement that weapons be carried or possessed 'in accordance' with the Carry Act is that the weapons, themselves, are of the type for which a valid concealed carry license may be issued under the Carry Act. Indeed, any other reading would lead to absurd results.” Id. at ¶ 18.
The Court further reasoned: “Our conclusion that stun guns and tasers cannot be carried or possessed ‘in accordance’ with the Carry Act because a concealed carry license cannot be issued for those weapons is further supported by section 24-2(a-5) of the UUW statute. This provision states that section 24-1(a)(4) of the UUW statute does not ‘apply to or affect any person carrying a concealed pistol, revolver, or handgun and the person has been issued a currently valid license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act at the time of the commission of the offense.’ 720 ILCS 5/24- 2(a-5) (West 2016). When read together with section 24-1(a)(4), section 24-2(a-5) makes clear that only those weapons that can be licensed under the Carry Act are meant to be excluded from the reach of the UUW statute.”Id. at ¶ 19.
Justice Burke provided the judgment and opinion in the case. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Garman, Neville, Thomas, Theis, and Kilbride concurred.
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