Updated: 01-07-16
Firearm Laws
Search & Seizure

Prior to the Smyth decision, in a case that can still be cited as authority, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District, in People v. Cameron, 336 Ill. App. 3d 548, affirmed a jury verdict of “guilty,” when the defendant transported an unloaded semiautomatic pistol in his motor vehicle glove compartment. The principal issue of the case turned on the interpretation of the “container” exemption in the criminal statute which exempted the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle “if the firearm is unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid [f]irearm [o]wner’s [i]dentification [c]ard.”
The trial court refused the defendant a jury instruction which basically stated the exemption language, and the Appellate Court affirmed this decision, holding that the glove compartment did not fall within the legislators’ understanding of what constituted a “container.” Similar to the Smyth case (above) the Court here was obviously concerned with the immediate accessibility of the firearm.
The Court noted that the legislators, when debating the Bill and enumerating various means of containing a firearm, intended “container” to mean “some sort of container that can be picked up and carried around.” Obviously, a glove compartment does not fit that definition. The Justice writing the opinion stated: “If it [the firearm] is in a glovebox in ***a vehicle*** I haven’t seen too many vehicles someone could pick up and carry around.” In response to the defendant’s argument that he was entitled to the “exemption” jury instruction, the Court noted that “. . .strictly construing the container exemption, we determine a vehicle’s glove compartment is not an ‘other container’ under the container exemption. A glove compartment is fundamentally different from a case, firearm carrying box, or shipping box because these receptacles are portable whereas a glove compartment is a fixed area in the dashboard of a vehicle. Therefore, a glove compartment is not an ‘other container’ similar to the ones enumerated in the container exemption.”

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