Following in the footsteps of New York, Washington recently became the second state to prohibit an insurance product offered by the National Rifle Association (NRA), Carry Guard, which provides monetary benefits to legal gun owners who are arrested in connection with gun crimes. In a January 16, 2019 statement, the Washington Insurance Commissioner announced that the insurance product violates state law barring policies that protect criminal activity. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, California has also taken similar action, prompting many Illinois gun owners to wonder if our state is next.
Despite the speculation, it is important to understand how the Carry Guard insurance works. While the policy insures against the legal costs you may incur in defending yourself against gun crimes, the criminal fees section of the policy does not insure against the act itself. It only guarantees your constitutionally protected right to have the attorney of your own choosing defend you. You will still need a skilled Illinois firearms and weapons crimes lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
Overview of NRA’s “Carry Guard” Program
The insurance coverage works in much the same way as homeowners or auto insurance. You pay premiums for the policy, and then you can file a claim if you are accused of violating gun laws. The funds can be used to pay any and all legal costs arising out of your criminal case, including the fees of the attorney you choose for your defense. Plus, you are allowed to have your legal defense paid for even if you are convicted in court or plead guilty to the charges.
In those states that have banned or are considering prohibiting Carry Guard, the position is that people should not be able to insure against criminal activity. The position of the NRA is that the insurance provides legal assistance to individuals who have only been accused of a crime and should not have to suffer financially when accused of exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Effect on Illinois’ Concealed Carry Laws
Even if Illinois does follow New York, California, Washington State, the effect on state concealed carry laws should be minimal. Applicants who are 21 years of age or older can still apply to the Illinois State Police to obtain a concealed carry license, after passing a 16-hour training course. You can not carry a firearm in certain restricted areas, including schools, government buildings, hospitals, playgrounds, and other designated locations. Note that you can not conceal carry in places that serve alcohol, such as a bar, if more than 50% of the establishment’s sales are from alcohol.
Penalties for Violating Illinois’ Firearms Statutes
Your sentence for a violation of state gun laws depends upon the specifics of your case. A concealed carry license allows you to have a gun in your possession, but you are not authorized to use it in any way that violates state laws. Carrying a gun in a restricted area is a Class B Misdemeanor, though serious felony charges may apply for using a firearm in commission of a crime. Some of these felony charges carry sentences that can include imprisonment for the rest of your life.
Illinois Firearms and Weapons Crimes Lawyer
For more information on Illinois gun laws, please contact Glasgow & Olsson at 847-577-8700 or via our website. Our firearms and weapons crimes attorney represent clients in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry Counties in all types of criminal matters. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your defense options when faced with gun charges.
(image courtesy of Velizar Ivanov)