Illinois already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, but that doesn’t stop anti-gun politicians from Gov. J.B. Pritzker down to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot from routinely demanding the passage of even more gun control legislation at both the state and federal level. Meanwhile, those same politicians are ignoring what’s actually happening in the state’s courtrooms on a daily basis; sweetheart plea deals that are putting serious offenders right back on the streets while ignoring the very gun control laws that people like Pritzker and Lightfoot say aren’t enough.
Take the recent case of Demonte Billings, a 22-year old from Champaign, Illinois who was busted back in January after police executed a search warrant of his home. Inside they found approximately one pound of marijuana and five firearms, one of which had been illegally modified to shoot full-auto with the addition of a simple switch.
Prosecutors could have referred Billings to the nearest U.S. Attorney’s office for federal prosecution, but instead they decided to keep the case in their hands. Not only that, they ended up offering him a plea deal that saw the gun charges dropped completely.
Demonte Billings, 22, pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Randy Rosenbaum to possession with intent to deliver cannabis. In return, a more serious charge of possession of a machine gun was dismissed.
… Billings was also sentenced to 180 days in jail, but as part of his plea agreement, the judge agreed to hold that in remission.
If he succeeds at probation, he won’t have to serve the 177 additional days, but should he violate his probation, the judge could have him serve some or all of that time.
While I personally think that it should be completely legal to possess a pound of pot and a machine gun if you want to, that’s not how the law currently works (and it certainly isn’t a view shared by the Democrats in charge of state government in Illinois). Meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker keeps blaming other states for Illinois violent crime while refusing to acknowledge what’s going on in the state’s criminal justice system.
“Even if you have reasonable gun safety laws and rules here in the state of Illinois, in Indiana and Missouri and Kentucky you don’t,” Pritzker said, noting 60% of the guns recovered in major crimes in Chicago come from other states. “National laws that help us deter weapons from getting into the hands of people who would commit violent crimes are necessary.”
Sorry, J.B. but this one’s all on you and your fellow Illinois Democrats. You can’t blame prosecutors in Indiana or Missouri for giving Billings a “Get Out of Jail Free” card after being busted with a pound of pot and an illegally modified pistol. You can’t blame Kentucky lawmakers for failing to refer Billings to federal authorities for prosecution. You can’t even point the finger at Congress for failing to enact the type of anti-gun restrictions that you already have on the books in Illinois.
It was ultimately the decision of the Champaign County State’s Attorney to offer Billings this incredibly generous plea deal, and if Billings ends up back in court charged with more serious crimes in the not-too-distant future the state of Illinois is going to bear some responsibility. I hope that Billings will take advantage of this incredible gift given to him and will turn his life around, but sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lesson that he takes away from this experience is that Illinois’ gun control laws (not to mention the criminal justice system itself) are more suggestions than hard-and-fast rules that come with consequences for breaking them.