A state representative from Chicago who was arrested last November for carrying a concealed firearm without a license has had his charges dropped after prosecutors determined they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with a trial. That’s good news for Rep. Curtis Tarver, and I think it was the right call for the Cook County Prosecutor to make, though Tarver’s case also provides plenty of evidence showing that Illinois’ Firearms Owner ID card law needs to disappear completely.
Tarver has maintained all along that his arrest was the result of a clerical error involving his FOID card that led to his concealed carry license being temporarily revoked. Here’s how he described the arrest shortly after he was released from custody.
The facts are clear and supported by documents which I have shared with the Chicago Police Department: In August 2019, my concealed carry permit was renewed through August 2024. Upon receiving notice that concealed carry license was revoked because my Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) had expired I immediately renewed my FOID. The renewal was effective as of November 16. While I had no way of knowing, this renewal purportedly was not yet reflected in Chicago Police Department records. The department acknowledged that my FOID was valid as of November 16. This was two days prior to the traffic stop, indicating that the concealed carry license should also be valid. I fully expect this case will be resolved quickly and without incident.
Well, the case is now resolved, but it wasn’t the quick resolution that Tarver was hoping for. In fact, now the state representative says he’s suing the Chicago PD over his arrest. In an interview with the website Block Club Chicago, Tarver alleges that officers violated his rights while he was in custody.
Tarver, who is an attorney, told Block Club officers at the Grand Crossing (3rd) District Police Station, where he was detained for several hours after his arrest, denied him a phone call, tried to coerce him into “taking the charge” and drove his car to the station themselves rather than calling a tow truck, among other claims.
“Although the possession of my disclosed firearm was legal, I was subjected to unjust treatment by [Chicago] officers, which included being pulled over by six police cars in my district and being handcuffed to [a] bench for nearly seven hours,” Tarver said in a statement.
I’m not sure how that lawsuit is going to work out for Tarver, but there is something he could do to ensure that things like this don’t happen to anyone else; work to repeal Illinois’ FOID card requirement. The law is already subject to several legal challenges, and Tarver’s arrest is another example of the problems that come with requiring residents to get a permission slip from the state before they can exercise their constitutional rights.
Unfortunately, Tarver’s adopted a different approach. Instead of working to repeal the FOID law, he’s doing everything he can to actually make it worse. Here’s from his statement last November:
Like many people in Chicago, I applied for a concealed carry license in order to keep myself and my daughter safe. I take considerable efforts to ensure that I am always in compliance with our state’s laws and following safe practices for handling a firearm. This commitment to stronger gun laws that promote responsible ownership is why I recently voted for the Fix the FOID Act, which cracks down on illegal gun sales, strengthens background checks and closes unnecessary loopholes. I look forward to continuing this work on behalf of our community and focusing efforts to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
SB 1966, the so-called “Fix the FOID Act,” doesn’t actually fix any of the problems in the current law. The bill not only would impose a universal background check mandate in Illinois, it would raise the fee for a FOID card from $10 to $50 while shortening the length of the FOID card’s validity from ten to five years.
The requirement that all gun owners in the state of Illinois possess a valid FOID card has done jack squat to reduce street crime in Chicago, but it does provide police and prosecutors with a handy way to charge someone for illegal gun possession, even if they’re legally eligible to purchase or own a firearm under federal law. Honestly, in this day and age of “reimagining policing”, I would think that Tarver would be all on board with scrapping the FOID card completely. Instead, he’s still calling for “stronger gun laws that promote responsible ownership.”
I’m actually puzzled enough about this that I reached out to Rep. Tarver’s office to invite him on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. for a conversation about his arrest, his potential lawsuit, and why he’s still supporting old-school gun control measures that rely on police to enforce, even as he’s embraced policing reform in the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago. I’m not looking for a screaming match, but a good-faith discussion on the importance of the Second Amendment, even if we’re coming at it from slightly different points of view.