Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County. No. 95CF1110. Honorable John K. Greanias, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected January 3, 1997. Released for Publication December 6, 1996.
Honorable James A. Knecht, J., Honorable Robert W. Cook, J. - Concur, Honorable Frederick S. Green, J. - Concur. Justice Knecht delivered the opinion of the court.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Knecht
JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant, Joan E. Bruner, was charged in the circuit court of Macon County with unlawful use of weapons and unauthorized possession of weapons in violation of sections 24-1(a)(4) and 21-6(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4), 21-6(a) (West 1994)). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss count I for unlawful use of weapons alleging it did not state an offense as charged because defendant was exempt from criminal responsibility under section 24-2(i) of the Code (720 ILCS 5/24-2(i) (West 1994)) due to the fact the gun in her possession was unloaded; it was in a case, and she possessed a valid firearm owners identification (FOID) card. The trial court dismissed count I and the State has appealed. We affirm.
The facts are undisputed. Defendant came to the Macon County courthouse on a small claims matter. At the security checkpoint she handed her purse to the deputy and proceeded through the checkpoint. The deputy examined her purse and discovered an unloaded gun in a case and a valid FOID card. Defendant was then charged with the felony offense of unlawful use of weapons (see 720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4) (West 1994)) and also a misdemeanor charge for bringing a gun into a publicly funded building without permission of the security officer (see 720 ILCS 5/21-6(a) (West 1994)).
Section 24-1(a)(4) of the Code prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon, without specifying whether it is loaded or unloaded, cased or encased. Section 21-6(a) of the Code prohibits possession of a weapon whether loaded or unloaded, encased or not, broken down or not, on State or federal land "or in any building on such land without prior written permission from the chief security officer for such land." 720 ILCS 5/21-6(a) (West 1994).
Defendant filed a motion to dismiss directed to the felony charge. Count I charged defendant:
"did commit the offense of UNLAWFUL USE OF WEAPONS, in that she knowingly concealed on her person, a pistol, at a time when she was not on her own land, or in her own abode, or a fixed place of business, said pistol being carried unloaded in a case and said defendant being in possession of a valid Card, but not covered by the exemption in 720 ILCS, [sic] 5/24-2(i)."
Section 24-2(i) of the Code provides:
"Nothing in this Article shall prohibit, apply to, or affect the transportation, carrying, or possession, of any pistol or revolver, stun gun, taser, or other firearm consigned to a common carrier operating under license of the State of Illinois or the federal government, where such transportation, carrying, or possession is incident, to the lawful transportation in which such common carrier is engaged; and nothing in this Article shall prohibit, apply to, or affect the transportation, carrying, or possession of any pistol, revolver, stun gun, taser, or other firearm, not the subject of and regulated by subsection 24-1(a)(7) or subsection 24-2(c) of this Article, which is unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container, by the possessor of a valid Card." 720 ILCS 5/24-2(i) (West 1994).
Defendant argued section 24-2(i) of the Code contains an exemption to the offense of unlawful use of weapons which allows a person to carry an unloaded, encased weapon so long as she has a valid FOID card. The State argued this exemption applied only to common carriers, otherwise it is a "concealed carry" law. Defendant contended, however, the last part of section 24-2(i) of the Code, after the semicolon, applied to her as charged. She argued this section is designed to allow a person, for example, to purchase a weapon at a store and transport it home, unloaded and in a case.
The trial court found, while the provision of section 24-2(i) "may allow for mischief," it provided an exemption for defendant under these circumstances and dismissed count I. Count II remains pending. The State has appealed pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1). 145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1).
On appeal, the State has abandoned its contention section 24-2(i) of the Code applies only to common carriers but contends the exemption was not intended to allow persons to carry weapons, even unloaded and encased, as they go about their daily business but was intended to allow persons to transport weapons from one location to another such as to their homes after purchasing a weapon. The ...