IL Supreme Court rules in People vs Burns:
¶ 31 CONCLUSION
¶ 32 For the foregoing reasons, we find the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, as set forth in section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A) of the AUUW statute, facially unconstitutional. As a result, the provision is not enforceable against anyone, including defendant. Accordingly, we vacate defendant’s conviction and sentence for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
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People vs Burns.pdf 92.88KB
Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed December 17, 2015
People v. Burns, 2015 IL 117387
Appellate citation: 2013 IL App (1st) 120929
JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Freeman, Kilbride, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Chief Justice Garman specially concurred, with opinion, joined by Justice Thomas.
In 2009, Chicago police who were responding to reports of gunfire near 73rd and Blackstone saw this defendant, with a gun in his hand, exit the car in which he was sitting. He threw the handgun back into the vehicle and fled on foot, throwing another object to the ground as he ran. That object was discovered to be a magazine or “clip,” loaded with 9-millimeter rounds. The gun recovered from the car had no clip, but had one live 9-millimeter round in the chamber, and the clip retrieved during the chase fit the gun recovered from the car. The defendant was arrested.
Burns’ Cook County bench trial began in late 2011, and, in early 2012, he was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon based on the statute outlawing possession of an uncased, loaded and readily accessible firearm in a vehicle. Because he had a prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance, at sentencing a 10-year term as a Class X offender was imposed.
Burns sought direct review in the appellate court, and, on September 12, 2013, while his appeal was pending, the Illinois Supreme Court decided People v. Aguilar, which reversed a conviction under the same statute that had just been used to convict Burns. In Aguilar, the supreme court held that a statute which operates as a flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home is facially unconstitutional as in violation of the right to bear arms guaranteed by the second amendment.
Burns had raised the Aguilar decision in the appellate court, but his conviction was affirmed in 2013. The appellate court said that, despite Aguilar, the challenged statute remained enforceable because felons (like this defendant) lack second amendment rights. The defendant appealed again.
In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court noted that the legislature may constitutionally prohibit felons from carrying readily accessible weapons in select circumstances, and, in fact, has done so by specific statute, but it did not do so in the enactment challenged here.
At the trial, the State was not required to prove a prior felony conviction as an offense element and it did not do so. The matter of being previously convicted of a felony was addressed at sentencing. The challenged statute, as written, is a flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home, without being limited to a subset of persons, such as felons. It is, thus, facially unconstitutional as written.
In this decision, the supreme court followed Aguilar, noting, however, that some of the language used in the modified opinion had inappropriately referred to the Class 2 and Class 4 forms of the offense at issue. No such offenses exist. This language, however, cannot be viewed as limiting the Aguilar holding of facial unconstitutionality.
The challenged statute is unconstitutional on its face and is not enforceable against anyone, including this defendant. His conviction and sentence were vacated. The appellate court was reversed.