Fifteen people were shot outside a Chicago funeral this week. Last weekend in the city, 49 people were shot, and seven were killed. Yet the state of Illinois is preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves by denying them their Second Amendment rights.
Enough is enough.
This week, a former Marine named D’Andre Bradley teamed up with the Goldwater Institute to take a stand. On Monday, he and three other Chicago-area citizens filed a lawsuit against the state of Illinois in response to the government’s failure to issue the licenses it requires to buy or possess a firearm.
Illinois requires its residents to obtain a state license—called a Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) card—before they may purchase or even possess a firearm of any kind. But for Bradley and the other plaintiffs—who diligently applied for a card and qualify under the law—owning a gun is a virtual impossibility because the state has failed to issue cards within the 30 days required under the law. In fact, the state is taking as long as 60 days, 90 days, or even longer to issue licenses.
“This is a basic civil rights issue. Everyone has a fundamental right to self-defense,” Bradley wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed. “If the state is going to require a license to exercise that right, then it should at least respect its own time limit. And if it can’t or won’t do that, the courts should order it to do so — or just end the FOID scheme entirely. After all, the 48 other states without a FOID law show that Illinois has other options for promoting safe gun ownership — and respecting my rights is not optional.”
Unfortunately, Illinois is notorious for trampling on the Second Amendment, as Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Jacob Huebert explains.
“Federal courts have had to step in to protect Illinoisans’ Second Amendment rights more than once in the past decade. The Supreme Court famously ended Chicago’s handgun ban in the landmark McDonald v. City of Chicago decision in 2010. Chicago tried to evade that ruling by promptly passing an ordinance that required individuals to receive training at a firing range before they could own a handgun—and also banned all firing ranges in the city. The U.S. Court of Appeals struck that down in 2011, and in 2012, it struck down a state law that banned Illinoisians from carrying a loaded firearm anywhere.
“Now it’s time for the courts to end the FOID card delays that are indefinitely and completely denying thousands of Illinoisans their Second Amendment rights—or just end the FOID scheme altogether.”
In a big win for Miami Beach homeowners—and the Goldwater Institute—a court of appeal struck down the city’s devastatingly punitive $20,000 to $100,000 fines on those who choose to rent their home for the night.
Property owner Natalie Nichols—the plaintiff in the case and a Goldwater client—challenged the city’s unconstitutional restrictions on short-term rentals. Her victory is a big win for all Miami Beach homeowners—and it’s especially well-timed, given the hurdles property owners have been facing in Florida during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision is based on a simple premise: The Florida legislature has expressly capped fines for property code violations at $1,000 for the first offense, and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. And Miami Beach’s fines grossly exceed those caps. As the court acknowledged, nowhere has the legislature “authorize[d] administrative monetary penalties in excess of the limits established” by state law.
Excessive fines are an ongoing problem in America’s cities and, while today’s ruling narrowly focused here on the conflict with state law, those fines are also unconstitutional. You can read more about the case here, and you can learn about the Goldwater Institute’s efforts to defend home-sharing here.
America is facing a crisis unlike any other—one that tests our healthcare, education, and economic infrastructure like never before. But as extraordinary as these challenges may be, there is no reason Americans cannot surmount them, if they remain true to the principles of liberty that have seen us through so many crises in the past.
Revitalizing our nation following the COVID-19 pandemic requires bold and innovative policy solutions that ensure Americans have the freedom they need to recover. That’s why the Goldwater Institute has assembled a legislative toolkit—our roadmap for recovery—which sets out practical policy recommendations for the economy, education, and healthcare.
This is an unprecedented series of proposals developed by Goldwater’s team of leading experts. Over the coming months we will be working with partners in every state to help America get back on track and grow even stronger. You can read more at goldwaterinstitute.org/revitalizingamerica/.