Criminal Justice

State's Attorney in Illinois Won't Prosecute People Who Carry Weapons with 'No Evil Intent'

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Corrected: A state’s attorney in central Illinois has issued a press release criticizing the state’s gun laws and declaring he won’t prosecute people for some violations when they have “no evil intent.”

The decision by McLean County State’s Attorney Ronald Dozier appears to mean he won’t prosecute people for carrying a firearm, despite an Illinois law banning concealed weapons, the Bloomington Pantagraph reports. Dozier also said he won’t enforce unconstitutional parts of the state’s Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, which requires a background check before residents can obtain a card permitting gun ownership.

“The result of most gun control laws is that law-abiding citizens go defenseless while criminal thugs are armed,” Dozier said in the press release. “Our message is this: we will no longer use the power and authority of our office to criminalize and punish decent, otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise the rights granted to them by the Second Amendment of the United States’ Constitution to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their families.”

Dozier disagrees with state court decisions holding that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions protect only the right to own guns at home. “As the State’s Attorney, I have to make a choice. Do I continue to enforce laws that I believe to be unconstitutional, a belief that is supported by decisions of the highest court in the land, or do I continue to prosecute citizens who run afoul of state gun laws but have no evil intent or purpose in mind? Certainly the more cautious approach to such controversial issues is to keep enforcing the law, whenever possible in the least harmful way, until enough higher court cases are resolved against them that the anti-Second Amendment folks are forced to change. I’m not willing to do that anymore—too many good people will be harmed.”

McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery told the Pantagraph he agrees with Dozier’s views but “we shall continue to enforce the laws of the state of Illinois as they currently exist.” Dozier was appointed as interim state’s attorney in December. The man who is running unopposed for the position this November, Jason Chambers, criticized Dozier’s decision as “reckless,” the Bloomington Pantagraph reports in a separate story.

Updated at 4:07 p.m. to correct a reference to McLean County.

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