Holy crap! I can’t believe this!
The police here operated on an outdated assumption – possession of a firearm in and of
itself is a crime. Until recently, that was true in the City of Chicago. But the law has shifted
dramatically during this decade. Since the legislature has legalized gun possession and
concealed carry, many citizens may now possess firearms provided they have followed the
regulations. Our legislature has made a policy decision that has legal consequences for how
law enforcement officers must deal with possession of firearms. No longer can police assume that a person seen with a firearm is involved in criminal activity. Law enforcement
officers must adjust their procedures so that law-abiding citizens do not face the undue
burden of arrest for licensed activity.
¶ 36 Once Officer Whitlock discovered the gun in the glove compartment, he could have
attempted to find out whether Penister or Rockett had a license for the gun. If he found
evidence that they had no such license, he would have had probable cause to arrest. But if
police can lawfully arrest Penister here, without making any effort to determine whether he
had a license for the gun, everyone found with a firearm would be subject to arrest, no
¶ 37 Firearm owners who might wish to carry a concealed weapon should find that the facts of
this case give them some cause for alarm. Even a person who could quickly prove the
legality of gun possession would still face onerous arrest. Arrests can have significant legal
and reputational consequences. (Imagine, for example, a citizen legally carrying a concealed
weapon who is arrested during her morning commute, who then must explain to her
supervisor why she arrived hours late for work.) The approach the State advocates here –
arrest first, sort it out later – would cause fundamental and manifest injustice.
Can this be true?