CHICAGO, IL- Illinois is tripping over itself to restrict law-abiding citizens from using firearms to defend themselves when they are attacked or are subject to violent crimes. A Chicago-area woman, who shot an armed 14-year-old girl who tried to rob her on Friday night, is facing charges because she didn’t have a concealed weapon permit for her legally owned handgun.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the incident occurred at about 5:45 p.m. on November 29th when Araceli Diaz went to meet up with the teenager and another girl to complete the sale of a dog that had been negotiated online.
After setting up the sale over Facebook, Diaz met the teens Friday evening, Assistant State’s Attorney Maha Gardner told Judge Arthur Wesley Willis.
Diaz then handed the dog to the other girl and explained that it would cost $800, Gardner said. When Diaz asked for either the cash or the dog back, the 14-year old said she also wanted to look at the dog.
As the other girl left the area, the suspect pulled out an “unknown metal object,” ordered Diaz to the ground and struck her twice in the head and face, Gardner said. Diaz then pulled out a Glock 9mm and shot the girl in the chest and abdomen before driving off in her Cadillac.
Just a thought: leaving the scene may not have been her best course of action.
The teenager was transported to Stroger Hospital by ambulance in critical condition.
It turned out that the weapon she’d attacked her victim with was a pellet gun.
The 14-year old was arrested at the hospital on Saturday morning and charged with attempted armed robbery.
She is scheduled to appear in juvenile court on December 9th.
“We’re not sure where they met initially or how they communicated, but all we do know is that the 14-year-old did show up with other intentions and she pulled out a BB gun,” Chicago Police Officer Jose Jara said.
And that looks real.
“A BB gun can appear like a real gun and to anyone out there it’s going to appear like a real gun, to the police, and to any individual, and if someone’s carrying and they have their own CCL they may use their own gun to defend themselves.”
Diaz was taken into custody at 6:45 p.m. the day of the shooting. She was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and was due for a hearing in bond court on Sunday.
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Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon is a felony. If convicted, Diaz faces one to three years in prison.
She is a FOID card holder, but doesn’t have a concealed-carry license, and now faces a felony count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon but isn’t charged in connection with the shooting.
During Diaz’s initial court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Gardner explained that prosecutors determined she had acted in self-defense.
As such, it is unclear why authorities chose to pursue charges against Diaz, seeing that Illinois does recognize a variation of Castle Doctrine. The statute, called Defense of a Person, clarifies when a person can use force in defense of themselves or another person.
“A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
720 ILCS 5/7-1(a). Furthermore, a person is only able to use deadly force if:
“He reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.”
Facebook messages led investigators to Diaz’s home in Maywood, where they found the Cadillac, Gardner said. The Glock was found in the passenger seat loaded with eight rounds.
Diaz later admitted to opening fire on the teen during the attempted robbery, according to Gardner, who said Diaz had no prior arrests.
Michael Walsh, Diaz’s private attorney, described his client as a high school graduate who has worked for three years for a valve company. Walsh said the incident boils down to an “unfortunate set of circumstances.”
“I feel bad for the 14-year-old who got shot, but unfortunately the two of them were up to no good. The poor dog died, too,” said Walsh.
The judge set Diaz’s bail at $5,000 after Walsh made it clear that her family could post the $500 that would be needed to bond out. Her next court date was set for December 11th.
Diaz did not have a license to carry her weapon. It is not clear whether she had applied for one prior to the shooting.
Incidentally, gun owners across the state of Illinois are finding themselves playing a waiting game with the Illinois State Police over the issuance of their concealed carry licenses. There are currently more than 30,000 applications being processed, and the agency isn’t keeping up with the number of applications coming in. Illinois is a “shall issue” state.
Shall Issue means that if an applicant passes the basic requirements set out by state law, the issuing authority (county sheriff, police department, state police, etc.) is compelled to issue a permit. In other words, local law enforcement officials cannot deny an applicant a permit if the applicant meets all the criteria. Counting Illinois, there are 41 shall-issue states.
According to Bearing Arms, the Illinois State Police said the current length of time to process and approve an Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) is 90 days for applications with fingerprints and 120 days for applications without fingerprints.
But that’s not what CCL applicants are experiencing these days, according to the owner of a Des Plaines gun shop that, to date, has put 1,200 customers through the state’s concealed carry curriculum.
Dan Eldridge of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range said a survey of his customers revealed the state is taking about 120 days to process applications submitted with fingerprints and 140 days for applications submitted without fingerprints.
“You do your part and you hope the State Police can do theirs,” said Eldridge. “I don’t fault the State Police, necessarily. They are under resourced in getting this done.”
The State Police aren’t to blame if they’re understaffed. That blame can be placed on politicians in Illinois, and unfortunately there are plenty of lawmakers in Springfield who are happy to see this department be understaffed and overworked.
The state police say that if you’re applying to renew your concealed carry license, your existing card remains valid while the renewal is being processed, if you applied before the license expired. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that law enforcement will know this, particularly if you travel outside of the state.
But Eldridge said there is concern about what could happen to renewal applicants in the other 25 states that honor the Illinois concealed carry permit.
“If you do have a law enforcement interaction, are they familiar with the statute in Illinois?” Eldridge said. “Do they know that, well, it’s under review and so therefore, it’s still valid? My guess is that they don’t.”
This is a real issue, and though the State Police say they’re working on implementing a system that will allow for concealed carry license renewals over the phone, they don’t seem to have a deadline for bringing the system online. Until then, tens of thousands of gun owners in Illinois hoping to bear their arms are going to be twiddling their thumbs instead.
And it appears that is how Illinois legislators want it to be.
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