By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Plainville, Ill., man who sought to acquire a Firearm Owners Identification Card despite the fact he never technically had his civil rights restored after he previously had been convicted of domestic abuse.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court in a 5-2 ruling determined that state and federal laws provide a way for Jerry Coram and others to own a gun and acquire a FOID card even if they haven't received a pardon or had rights restored after being released from prison.
Coram, 48, was convicted of a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge in 1992. He received 12 months conditional discharge in the case, according to Adams County Circuit Court documents. Coram never technically lost his civil rights because he was not sentenced to prison time. Illinois law says that prisoners automatically get their civil rights back upon release, but only for voting privileges.
According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Adams County Circuit Judge Mark Schuering ordered the Illinois State Police to issue Coram a firearms permit. Schuering determined that Coram met requirements set out in the FOID card law for relief from his disqualification. The State Police and the Illinois Attorney General's Office challenged the ruling. They said the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited Coram from owning a gun because of the domestic abuse charge. The act prohibits convicted felons and anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from owning guns.
Judge Thomas Ortbal agreed with the argument made by the State Police and attorney general's office, but denied a motion to vacate Schuering's ruling. He said Coram's Second Amendment rights were violated. Ortbal's ruling that language in the FOID card law was unconstitutional sent the case directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The majority opinion, which was written by Justice Lloyd Karmeier, ruled that federal statutes allow Illinois courts to grant firearms permits if an applicant "will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety."
Corum applied for a FOID card in 2009. When Schuering made his ruling in 2010, the Adams County State's Attorney's Office did not object to Corum's petition.