The U.S. The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but Illinois law imposes some strict requirements on gun owners. Run afoul of them, and you may find yourself facing serious charges, including the unlawful use of a weapon, or UUW.
What is a UUW offense?
Under the Illinois Concealed Carry Act, all gun owners must possess a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID). Having a gun in your possession, even at home, without the benefit of an FOID card can lead to UUW charges.
Even with an FOID card, you can still be charged with UUW simply for carrying your unloaded gun in public unless it is properly enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box or some other container. This is true even if you’re merely transporting it to a friend’s and have it tucked away somewhere in your car.
An initial UUW offense is most likely to be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which means you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500, among other penalties if you’re convicted.
What is an aggravated UUW?
The potential for legal trouble is even higher when you’re caught with a loaded firearm in your possession. If you don’t have an FOID card, you can be charged with an aggravated UUW — even just for keeping your weapon for self-defense in your home.
To carry a loaded gun on your person or in your car without being in danger of an aggravated UUW charge, you need a Concealed Carry Permit (CCP) in addition to your FOID card. Even then, you need to be careful where you go. Taking your gun into a bar or school, for example, is still illegal even with your CCP.
A first conviction for aggravated UUW is treated as a Class 4 felony, which means you can face up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
There are a lot of nuances in the law when it comes to UUW charges, and firearms are governed by a complex array of state and federal laws. It doesn’t take much to get confused about your obligations as a gun owner and end up facing significant gun charges just for having your gun in the wrong place, under the wrong conditions.