Under-21-Year-Olds and Guns in Illinois:

Federal law makes it harder for 18-to-20-year-olds to get handguns, and some states prohibit it outright; yet nearly all states at least allow 18-to-20-year-olds to have long guns.

Except, it turns out, for Illinois, where state law bars 18-to-20-year-olds from possessing any gun -- including a stun gun -- unless they (1) have a parent or legal guardian's written consent, (2) haven't been convicted of any misdemeanor other than a traffic offense, and (3) the consenting parent or guardian isn't himself barred from owning a gun.

This means that if you're an 18-to-20-year-old and both your parents are dead, or if your living parent or parents have been convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors, or if your living parent or parents have recently been mental patients, or if your living parent or parents are in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant alien visa, you can't possess any sort of gun in Illinois. If your parents are around and not disqualified, then your right to own a gun turns on your parents' permission -- something that to my knowledge doesn't happen as to anything else for adults.

Oddly, if your parents aren't nonimmigrant visitors to the U.S., but are instead foreigners who aren't in the U.S. in the first place, then they can indeed give you permission to buy a gun -- they can't just do it once they've been admitted to the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa.

By the way, the Illinois Constitution provides, "Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The Illinois Supreme Court has held that, though handgun bans are allowed under the police power, "individual citizens" do have "a right to possess some form of weapon suitable for self-defense or recreation" (emphasis added) and "that a ban on all firearms that an individual citizen might use would not be permissible." Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove, 470 N.E.2d 266, 273 (Ill. 1984).

Queries: The age of majority in Illinois was 21 in 1970, when the right was enacted; it wasn't lowered to 18 until 1971. Does the right not fully apply to under-21-year-olds, the way some constitutional rights today don't fully apply to under-18-year-olds (consider the right to sexual autonomy, the right to marry, the right to abortion, which could be limited through certain kinds of parental consent laws, and likely the right to bear arms itself)? Or does the right apply to all adult citizens (unless otherwise disqualified by reason of felony conviction or the like) under today's age of majority, regardless of what the age of majority was at the time? Or has the right always extended to everyone 18 and above, regardless of the age of majority for other purposes?

Also, what would the answer be under a Second Amendment that's incorporated against the states, if such incorporation takes place? These questions would also have some importance in other states that allow long gun possession for 18-to-20-year-olds but ban handgun possession until age 21, and also as to the federal government, which makes handguns harder for under-21-year-olds to acquire.

Note also that when the age of majority was 21, presumably 18-to-20-year-olds could get a guardian if both parents were dead. Now that the age of majority is 18, I take it that it's impossible for them to get a guardian even if they wanted one in order to get the guardian's permission to own a gun.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Under-21-Year-Olds Banned from Possessing Any Firearms in New York City?
  2. Under-21-Year-Olds and Guns in Illinois: