ISRA Thursday Bulletin - April 30, 2020

by Richard Pearson

An old English proverb states that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Truer words were never spoken particularly when it comes to Executive Orders issued by Governor Pritzker and many other governors throughout United States.  Part of the latest Executive Order requires citizens to wear a face mask while out in public.  The problem is that if you are a firearm owner and comply with that order, you are also violating the Illinois Criminal Code.  So, you are guilty if you do and you are guilty if you don’t.  

Here is what the Illinois Criminal Code states: Section 24-1 Unlawful Use of Weapons.
(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly: (9) Carries or possesses in a vehicle or on or about his or her person any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or firearm or ballistic knife when he or she is hooded, robed or masked in such a manner as to conceal his or her identity;  (this violation is a class 4 felony)

Wearing a face mask and having a firearm should not be a crime in the first place.  For years, turkey, deer, waterfowl, varmint and all kinds of other hunters have been wearing face masks to camouflage them from game and to protect them from icy winter winds, sleet, rain and all kinds of inclement weather conditions.  A person does not have to be hunting to wear a ski mask in winter.  In winter of 2019 we had a wind chill of 59 degrees below and I was wearing a ski mask just walking down the street. How about religious groups who wear a face covering or women wearing a veil?  They certainly have no criminal intent.  Whether or not you are illegal, wearing a face mask pivots on your intent.  The face mask law was passed in the 90th General Assembly which covers years 1997 and 1998, long before Concealed Carry was passed.

The problems we have with this kind of legislation is that it is often passed so some legislators can go home and say, “I passed a law to make it tougher on criminals.”  That all sounds good in a campaign piece.  The fact is, at least in my opinion, criminals don’t really care about what the legislature passes.  If you are a bad guy intending to rob a gas station, get involved in a turf war over drug territories or a home invasion, all which could be expected to involve murder, does anyone in their right mind actually believe that a criminal actually cares about being charged with wearing a face mask and carrying a gun?  Fortunately, the ISP has issued a statement to help clarify the matter.   

Here is the Illinois State Police statement on wearing a face mask:
“The Governor’s Executive Order regarding the wearing of masks or protective facial coverings in public settings during this serious global pandemic was not intended to negatively impact permit holders under the Illinois Concealed Carry Act while legally carrying firearms. The Executive Order does not require or suggest that law enforcement should arrest or criminally charge conceal carry license permit holders for wearing protective masks while in public as long as they are complying with the other provisions of the Illinois Concealed Carry Act and are not committing any other violations of Illinois law. ISP has confidence that law enforcement officers across the state will use appropriate judgment and that elected State’s Attorneys will likewise exercise sound prosecutorial discretion.”

A few weeks ago, when it was announced that there would be widespread releases of prisoners because of the Coronavirus, I questioned the sense of that idea.  My question was, “What about us, the law-abiding citizens that have to bear the consequences of these actions?”  Well, the results are coming in.  In California, Rocky Lee Magic was released and within 40 minutes he carjacked someone.  Also, in California, a previous arsonist, Owen Aguilar, began setting fires immediately after his release.  He set nine fires in a week, one of which was to a tent of a homeless person who escaped but could have been burned alive.  In New York, a previously convicted rapist and child molester was released from jail and within a week he raped a 58-year-old woman.  All these criminals are back in jail but look at the price law-abiding citizens paid.  These incidents are just the ones that made headlines.  I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, more cases.

As the saying goes, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”  The same goes for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  That logic applies to the ruling from the SCOTUS in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. the City of New York, New York.  This case was about the ability of a law-abiding citizen to transport a legally owned firearm in and out of the City.

New York City had forbidden residents who were lawful gun owners from transporting their firearms anywhere but to one of seven ranges in New York City or to a gunsmith which also has to be inside the City.  If you took a firearm that you owned to property outside the City, it was a violation.  New York City was sued by NYSRPA.  The City fought them through the lower courts.  As soon as the SCOTUS granted a writ of certiorari, New York City changed the ordinance to moot the case.  Mostly, the SCOTUS doesn’t fall for such tactics but this time they bought into it.  They sidestepped the issue.  What was at stake was a decision that would codify into law a law-abiding citizen’s right to travel with their firearms.  This ruling once again emphasizes the need to replace one of the left-wing justices on the SCOTUS.  Every gun owner needs to do whatever it takes to get Donald Trump re-elected President.

In California, a background check is required to purchase ammunition just like what happens when you buy a firearm.  This is a back-door type registration scheme to find out what types of firearms you might have.  In a case known as Rhode v. Becerra, a federal court struck down the requirement.  The State of California immediately requested the order be stayed.  At this moment, the lower court order is in limbo. 

In Virginia, a judge has halted Governor Ralph Northam’s order that declared indoor ranges places of amusement, thereby making them non-essential and closing them.

There have been no changes in any of the lawsuits the ISRA is involved in.  We will update you if there are any changes.

What we are seeing is the anti-gun strategy of trampling on your Second Amendment Rights and forcing gun owners to sue if they want their rights back.  The anti-gun side is trying to wear down gun owners and their Second Amendment Rights.  It isn’t going to happen.  The Illinois State Rifle Association has been a leader in fighting for our Second Amendment Rights.  If you are not a member, please JOIN and ask a friend to join also.  We must continue the fight. 

Thanks for being a member.

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