Courts
5:04 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Weighs In On Gun Case

Illinois' old law banning the concealed carry of firearms took another hit this week. A federal court already found it unconstitutional last year. The Illinois Supreme Court has taken the same position.

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

Background

Alberto Aguilar was 17 when Chicago police arrested him for having a loaded handgun with the serial number scratched off.

He was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and sentenced to 24 months probation.

While his appeal was pending before the Illinois Supreme Court, a federal court in Chicago struck down Illinois' ban on public gun possession, finding it violated the U.S. Constitution. The Illinois legislature also legalized concealed carry starting next year.

Fast forward to the present day, and the Illinois Supreme Court is taking the same view on gun rights.

Ultimately, however, the decision is mixed for Aguilar. Although his conviction under the possession law was overturned, he was also convicted of a different crime, under a law that says it's illegal for minors to have guns. The Illinois Supreme Court says that behavior is not protected by the Constitution, and upheld the conviction.

In a separate decision, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled a 19-92 conviction for domestic battery should not necessarily prohibit a man from getting his Firearm Owners ID card.

Also On The Docket

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments in case that asks whether a business went too far in trying to secure a lower tax rate for its product. 

The Hartney Fuel Oil Company sells gas to big transportation companies — like railroads and trucking firms.

Until 2008, you could have been forgiven for thinking Hartney was based in Forest View, in Cook County. After all, the company had a building there where all of its employees worked.

But, every day, Hartney customers sent orders to a fax machine in the tiny town of Mark, Illinois (population 555). There, a contractor would forward the order to Hartney headquarters.

Why go to the trouble? The tax rate was 2.5 percent lower in Mark than in Forest View.

Hartney's lawyer, Rob Hochman, told the justices it's necessary in the low-margin fuel business.

"There's nothing wrong with a business structuring its affairs to reduce the tax burden on its customers," Hochman said.

The state of Illinois and Cook County taxing bodies take a dim view of this. They argue the key factor is where the business is located, not where the sale occurs.

Hartney ultimately did move its actual headquarters to Mark. It also paid more than $23 million in taxes and penalties, and is fighting to get that money back.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report.