Article 1, section 22 of the Illinois Constitution reads: “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”1 Illinois case law provides support for the proposition that most reasonable firearms regulations are valid under art. I § 22.
In a 1982 case, Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an article I, § 22 challenge to a local ordinance (No. 81-11) prohibiting the possession of handguns within the Village’s borders.2 The court affirmed the lower court decision upholding the ordinance, finding in relevant part “that the right to keep and bear arms in Illinois is so limited by the police power that a ban on handguns does not violate that right.”3 The court went on to note that:
“[S]ection 22 simply prohibits an absolute ban on all firearms….There is no right under the Illinois Constitution to possess a handgun, nor does the state have an overriding state interest in gun control which requires it to retain exclusive control….Once a local government identifies a problem and enacts legislation to mitigate or eliminate it, that enactment is presumed valid and may be overturned only if it is unreasonable, clearly arbitrary, and has no foundation in the police power.”4
Therefore, since Morton Grove presented “at least some empirical evidence” that gun control legislation may reduce deaths and accidents caused by handguns, the court held that the ordinance was a valid exercise of the Village’s police power.5
Just two years later, the Illinois Supreme Court reached the same conclusion in Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove, which also involved a challenge to Ordinance 81-11.6 The state supreme court concluded that article I, § 22 permits extensive regulation of firearms under the state’s police power and the municipal home rule power, including prohibitions on a particular class of firearms. The court upheld the Village’s ordinance, finding that it “bears a rational relation to the goal of reducing weapons-related injuries and accidents.”7
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- Illinois Const., Art. I, § 22.
- 695 F.2d 261 (7th Cir. 1982).
- Id. at 267.
- Id. at 268.
- Id. at 268-269.
- 470 N.E.2d 266 (Ill. 1984).
- Id. at 279; see also City of Chicago v. Taylor, 774 N.E.2d 22 (Ill. App. Ct. 2002) (holding that Chicago’s firearms registration ordinance does not violate the state constitutional right to bear arms provision because it does not prevent a person from bearing arms, but rather allows an individual to legally possess a firearm once that firearm has been properly registered); Sklar v. Byrne, 727 F.2d 633 (7th Cir. 1984) (rejecting an article I, § 22 challenge to Chicago ordinances regulating handgun possession and registration, stressing that an individual’s right to bear arms is narrow and subject to extensive regulation); People v. Robinson, 964 N.E.2d 551, 556-57 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011) (refusing to revisit the Illinois Supreme Court’s holding from Kalodimos, which “applied the rational basis test and upheld a city ordinance absolutely prohibiting the possession of handguns.”).