Red v. Blue: Texas AG Defends Police Carry While IL AG Threatens Cops With Prison

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
Image by Boch, base image courtesy Kwame Raoul

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dropped the hammer on five entities in the Lone Star State that arbitrarily ban cops from carrying in violation of Texas state law. If only all attorneys general shared his good sense and willingness to uphold the law. Obviously not every states have the benefit of chief law enforcement officers who back the police.

Elections have consequences. Thought experiment: do you think someone like Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke would have gone after those illegally restrictive places had he been in the same position?

Your vote counts, folks. Here in the Land of Lincoln, a million-plus gun owning folks stayed home in the last election. Some thought their votes didn’t count and others probably thought, “why bother?” As a result, instead of electing renowned civil rights attorney in Tom DeVore as our AG, Illinoisans who actually voted elected Kwame Raoul.

Recently, Attorney General Raoul’s office released an “informal” opinion asserting that retired police officers who carry firearms on school property are committing a Class 3 felony. In the “informal” opinion of the Land of Lincoln’s top lawyer, it would seem that only on-duty police and armed security officers of said schools have an exemption to carry on school property.

What sparked this request for an opinion from the AG’s office?

Last year, a state cop carried while off-duty at his daughter’s high school softball game. He helped coach and at some point his gun was momentarily exposed. Some Suzy Winebox saw it, panicked and complained.

The brass reacted by pulling him off the street and put him on a desk for months while they toyed with firing him and seeking criminal charges. Probably the only thing that saved him under Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration and their hand-picked leader of this state law enforcement agency was a local prosecutor who looked at the report and said, “Are you kidding me?”

So the state cop was returned to duty with a stern warning that he would (likely) be terminated and potentially prosecuted if he dared pack his gun while off-duty at his kid’s school again. Or any other school for that matter.

The Republican leader of the Illinois House asked for an opinion relating to off-duty and retired officer carry in schools. What she got back shocked plenty of folks. The Land of Lincoln’s criminal-friendly (and cop-hating) Attorney General says that off-duty cops and retired cops risk arrest and a felony conviction that carries a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 should they carry on school property.

Accordingly, in the absence of a statutory amendment otherwise providing, a qualified retired law enforcement officer may not carry a concealed firearm in a school or on the real property of a school without potentially violating subsection 24-1 ( c )( 1. 5) of the Criminal Code.

Interestingly, the informal opinion lumps in “qualified law enforcement” with retired officers at least twice. And plenty of legal beagles are reading that to suggest that if it’s not “on duty” law enforcement or special armed security for the school, they be treated the same as retired cops.

Here’s an example of the AG bundling both groups together.

Lastly, subsection 24-1 ( a-6) of the Criminal Code provides that subsection 24- 1 ( a)( 4) does not apply to or affect a “qualified current or retired law enforcement officer” qualified under LEOSA. It may be argued that because subsection 24-l(c)(l.5) is defined as a violation of subsection 24-1 (a)( 4) in a school or on the real property of a school, the language of subsection 24-2(a-6) also exempts qualified retired law enforcement officers from subsection 24- l(c)(l .5). However, Illinois courts have held that each “specific location” provision set out in subsection 24-1 ( c )(1.5) is a separate offense from the general offense established by subsection 24-l(a)(4). Chairez, 2018 IL 121417, 118 (because subsection 24-l(c)(l.5) is separate from the sentencing provision set out in subsection 24-1 (b ), “we presume that the General Assembly intended that, if proven at trial, the specific locations enumerated in [sub]section 24-l(c)(l.5) are to be separate offenses that carry their own enhanced sentences different from the prescribed sentences in [sub]section 24-l(b)”); Cunningham, 2019 IL App (1st) 160709, 113 (“our supreme court [in Chairez] recently held that the ‘specific places’ provision of the UUW [ unlawful use of a weapon] statute ( section 24-1 ( c )( 1. 5)) creates separate offenses from the unconstitutional blanket prohibition on the possession of firearms outside the home for selfdefense stated in section 24-l(a)(4)”); Green, 2018 IL App (1st) 143874, 114 (discussing Chairez and concluding that “the offense of ‘UUW within 1000 feet of a school’ is distinct from the offense of UUW, which the Seventh Circuit found unconstitutional in Moore”). 

Nothing says “pro-law enforcement” like threatening felony charges for retired or off-duty cops packing heat in or around schools, right?

Retired officers who carry definitely face substantial criminal exposure under AG Raoul’s opinion.  A Class 3 felony carries five to ten years imprisonment.

For the foregoing reasons, qualified retired law enforcement officers qualified under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 who are qualified under the Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry program are not permitted to carry a concealed firearm in a school or on property belonging to a school. In the absence of a statutory amendment otherwise providing, a qualified retired law enforcement officer under LEOSA who carries a concealed firearm in a school or on the real property of a school potentially violates subsection 24-1 ( c )(1.5) of the Criminal Code of 2012.

In a state whose biggest city has had the most federal corruption convictions for several years running, Kwame “Sgt. Schultz” Raoul can’t seem to find any corruption to prosecute. But if a state cop carries while off-duty at his daughter’s softball game, he better look out.

So go vote. Every single time. If you don’t vote, you aren’t doing your part to keep a Soros-style prosecutor, district attorney, or state attorney general out of office where you live.

The good news? A bill has been filed to fix this problem. The bad news?  HB2416 remedies some of these issues, but doesn’t have many sponsors and appears to be bogged down in committee.

Hopefully common sense will prevail. However, without the support of the Illinois Democrat Black Caucus, the bill’s future remains iffy at best. And frankly, given the bill one of them filed to protect bags of chips more than our school kids, getting that support seems… unlikely.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *