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State of Illinois vs. Vivian Claude Brown: Defending Illinois’ licensing requirement for firearm ownership

Case Information: The People of the State of Illinois v. Vivian Claudine Brown, No. 127201 (Illinois Supreme Court brief filed Oct. 14, 2021).

At Issue: In order to address gun violence, Illinois implemented a licensing law requiring people obtain an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card (“FOID”) in order to possess a gun. Applicants must meet certain requirements, including meeting the minimum age (21), and demonstrating fno history of a felony conviction. Vivian Brown  argues that, to the extent this law requires her to have a license to keep a firearm in her home, this law is a violation of Second Amendment Rights. The intermediate appellate court ruled in her favor. We argue that the Supreme Court should reverse this decision and uphold the Illinois FOID Act. 

Our Brief: Our brief argues that the FOID Act is consistent with the Second Amendment’s protections. In considering the constitutionality of the Act, the court should apply intermediate scrutiny at most, since the law imposes a minimal burden and does not attempt to restrict ownership for lawful gun owners. In fact, lawful gun owners are categorically protected under the FOID Act. Research demonstrates that licensing laws like the one in Illinois are highly effective at reducing gun homicides and suicides and at decreasing gun purchases by criminals. This law is appropriately tailored and substantially related to Illinois’ interests in lowering violence and preventing gun access by irresponsible, dangerous people within the State. Importantly, the requirement for Illinois gun owners to possess a FOID Card has repeatedly been found constitutional, including by the Illinois Supreme this Court and, the Seventh Circuit,
The intermediate appellate court’s reasoning in striking down the law is in direct conflict with Heller and its progeny, which unambiguously found that the Second Amendment right, like most other rights, is not unlimited. Our brief addresses the intermediate appellate court’s assertion that the act “does little to protect the general public” citation to an extensive body of empirical evidence demonstrating the public safety benefits of this and similar laws.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.