As I posted a little more than a week ago, the State of Illinois sought to have the case brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation on behalf of Ellen Mishaga challenging the state’s FOID requirements dismissed. They maintained that the FOID Card Act provided exceptions for out-of-state residents and thus they had not abridged her constitutional right to keep and bear arms nor her right to travel freely.
Attorney Jim Manley filed a reply in opposition to the defendant’s motion to dismiss yesterday. He gives a two-fold argument as to why the court should not dismiss this case: standard of review and that no FOID Act exceptions apply to Ms. Mishaga’s claims.
Courts, when reviewing motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, must view the initial complaint in such a way as to be most favorable to the plaintiff. This includes accepting as true all factual allegations and all possible inferences stemming from those allegations. Thus, as the plaintiff argues:
Accepting the truth of the allegations in the Complaint, and drawing all inferences in the light most favorable to Ms. Mishaga, this Court should deny Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
The defendant suggested that 430 ICLS 65/2(b)(9) and (10) would be exceptions that would apply to Ms. Mishaga and allow her to possess a firearm in the state of Illinois without a FOID Card. The plaintiff’s reply argues that neither of these apply to Ms. Mishaga’s case. First, 430 ICLS 65/2(b)(9) states that “nonresidents whose firearms are unloaded and enclosed in a case” are not required to hold a FOID Card. However, an unloaded and cased firearm is inoperable and not available for self-defense. The plaintiff argues that “this subsection of the FOID Act suffers from the same constitutional infirmity as the law struck down by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.” The Supreme Court said in Heller that inoperable firearms make it impossible for citizens to use them in self-defense and thus it was unconstitutional.
Subsection (9) specifically prohibits the constitutionally-protected activity Ms. Mishaga intends to engage in by requiring nonresidents’ firearms to be “unloaded and enclosed in a case” at all times. 430 ILCS 65/2(b)(9). Thus, even if 430 ILCS 65/2(b)(9) were not unconstitutional, this exception to the FOID Act would offer no support for Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Accordingly, Ms. Mishaga respectfully requests that the Court deny Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
The second exception to the FOID Card noted by the defendant involved citizens licensed or registered to possess a firearm in their resident state. However, Ms. Mishaga is a resident of Ohio which requires no licensing or registration to possess a firearm in that state. Indeed, as the plaintiff’s points out:
Ohio law forbids such licensing or registration. See Ohio Rev. Code § 9.68(A) (“[A] person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.”)
Lawful possession in one’s state of residence is not the same as either registration or licensing though this seems to be the argument of the defendant. If that were the case, then Ms. Mishaga could possibly lawfully possess a functional firearm in Illinois without a FOID Card. As the brief in opposition notes:
Defendant conflates “licensed or registered” possession of a firearm with “lawful” possession of a firearm; however, the statutory exception applies only to the former….Unfortunately, neither Defendant nor this Court has the power to rewrite Illinois law. Virginia v. American Booksellers Ass’n, 484 U.S. 383, 397 (1988) (“we will not rewrite a state law to conform it to constitutional requirements.”); United States v. Wilburn, 473 F.3d 742, 746 (7th Cir. 2007) (“[I]t is not our role to rewrite the law.”). Accordingly, Ms. Mishaga respectfully requests that the Court deny Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
Frankly, having read both the motion to dismiss and the plaintiff’s reply in opposition, I was amazed that Illinois made the arguments that they did in the first place. One argument provided for an inoperable firearm when it was clear from the original complaint that Ms. Mishaga was seeking to possess a functional firearm for self-defense. The other argument made the erroneous assumption that Ohio required licensing or registration. It may be too much to expect that Illinois will continue to make these types of errors in the future but one can always hope.