In a four-page statement, Dozier said his office will not file charges against law-abiding citizens who possess weapons.
“We will no longer use the power and authority of our office to criminalize and punish decent otherwise law-abiding citizens who chose to exercise their rights granted under them by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their families,” said Dozier’s statement.
Dozier, who was appointed in December to fill in as state’s attorney until a new chief prosecutor was elected, said he has been “quietly changing our policies to bring them in accordance with the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
At the same time, Twin City police officials said they will not change their enforcement policies because of Dozier’s new directive.
Dozier cited a 2008 case that held citizens — not just the military — have a right to possess guns for personal defense, and a 2010 decision that held states have a right to make their own gun laws.
Dozier said his office will no longer prosecute violations of state laws related to Firearm Owners Identification Cards, unlawful use of weapons and aggravated unlawful use of weapons and other statutes that appear to be in conflict with two other Supreme Court decisions on gun ownership. The use of weapons laws punish people “for merely possessing (not using or threatening to use) a firearm in the wrong place or wrong kind of container,” said Dozier.
In determining if charges will be filed, Dozier said he will consider: whether drugs or alcohol are involved; the reason the person was carrying a firearm; if the gun was used recklessly; and, if the person is not an Illinois citizen, whether the gun was possessed or carried under the terms of his state’s regulations. An individual’s possible connection to gangs and a felony conviction record also will be taken into account when charges are reviewed, said Dozier.Edward's County State's Attorney Michael Valentine echoed Dozier's sentiment regarding the enforcement of the state's gun laws and says that his policy of non-enforcement is shared by other counties, including his county. “It’s a policy I know several counties in Illinois, including Edwards, now follow,” he said. Prosecutors like Valentine and Dozier are making their views known because of the refusal of Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois lawmakers to update the state's gun laws to reflect recent Supreme Court decisions affirming the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.