The highest court in the state of Illinois heard oral arguments in a challenge to the state’s Firearms Owner ID card on Tuesday, and the upcoming decision has the potential to undo one of the state’s biggest gun control laws.
The case involves a woman in Wabash County, Illinois who lost her right to keep and bear arms after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Shawna Johnson’s attorney says she didn’t have the money to fight the charge filed by an ex, and agreed to a plea deal to a lesser charge after the state’s attorney told her she would “maybe” lose her FOID card for a “short time”, but if that happened, it wouldn’t amount to a permanent revocation of her rights. Johnson agreed, and in 2001 was sentenced to time served and levied a fine of $50.
In 2010, Johnson applied for and received a new FOID card, only to have it revoked by the county sheriff in 2012 after he learned of the domestic violence misdemeanor conviction. Both federal law and state statutes in Illinois prohibit firearms possession by those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, but the federal law has a carveout for individuals who have had their civil rights restored. As it turns out, since Johnson never actually served any time, it became a legal question as to whether or not she had her civil rights restored, and possibly whether she had ever lost them in the first place. Lawyers for Johnson and the Illinois State police argued back and forth as the case wound its way through the court system for several years until a circuit court judge in Illinois ruled in her favor in October of 2018. As her attorney told the Illinois Supreme Court in a briefing on the case,