Case Information: People of the State of Illinois v. Brown, No. 124100 (Ill. S. Ct. brief filed April 26, 2019)
At Issue: As part of the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (FOID Card Act), Illinois requires individuals to obtain a license to possess firearms, called a Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID). The licensing law is how Illinois conducts background checks on firearm purchasers and enforces other important gun regulations. In 2017, the defendant in this case was charged with possessing a firearm without a FOID, and in 2018 an Illinois trial court dismissed the charges on the grounds that the FOID Card Act violates the Second Amendment. That ruling, which is an extreme outlier among federal and state courts, is now on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that the lower court’s decision flies in the face of repeated decisions from the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois appellate courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which have all upheld the constitutionality of the FOID Card Act and its background check and other requirements. We further argue that even if the court were to review the FOID Card Act anew, it easily withstands intermediate scrutiny because it serves an important government interest in reducing violence and protecting public safety. To support this argument, we cite empirical research that found that firearm licensing laws significantly reduce gun homicides and suicides and limit criminals’ ability to gain access to firearms.