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A Court of Appeals in the Land of Lincoln has reversed a decision from a lower court that would have barred a father from keeping firearms or ammunition in his home until his daughter – now two years old – reaches the age of 18. The father – identified as Kurt R. – was awarded sole custody of his daughter after he split up with the mother, identified as Andrea R. Kurt had a gun collection consisting of eleven firearms – four pistols, one shotgun, and six rifles. And that was a big problem for the lower court . . .

With regard to Kurt’s gun collection, in its letter opinion the trial court noted that Kurt, Andrea and both of Andrea’s parents testified that guns were kept in a locked safe in a closet and behind a locked door to Kurt’s bedroom. [The decision also notes that the door to Kurt’s bedroom even had a key pad lock on it.] Although Andrea’s father testified that he once saw a gun in the garage, the court found that he had no specific information about this incident and no one else corroborated it. However, then the court found that it did “not wish to minimize the concern it has for the child’s safety, and finds that it is not in the best interests of a child to have multiple guns and ammunition in a home.” In the judgment order, the court ordered Kurt to remove all guns and ammunition from his home within 24 hours and ordered that guns were not permitted back into the home at any time until the child has attained the age of 18.

What’s astonishing about this is not just the fact that the trial court attempted to rescind Kurt’s civil rights, but the fact that it doesn’t appear to have been based on any of the evidence presented by Andrea.

Andrea had made quite a few allegations about Kurt, and both her mother and father had apparently testified that they’d seen guns in the house at various times. But the trial didn’t find Andrea’s or her parents’ testimony to be believable.

Again, going back to the Court of Appeals’ decision:

After reviewing the facts of the case, the [trial] court found that Andrea’s mother was so biased as a witness to make her testimony incredible. It also found that Andrea’s father’s testimony about guns was incredible because he stated that his knowledge of guns came from watching a lot of television and he had never owned or fired a gun. With regard to Andrea, the court said that it did not doubt that she loved M.A.R.R., but that she failed to see the impact her palpable hatred for Kurt had, and will continue to have, on her child. It noted that Andrea’s anger was evident at trial.

Despite all of that, the trial court still effectively conditioned Kurt’s custody of his daughter based on his surrendering his civil rights. Fortunately for Kurt, the Appeals Court was having none of it:

Kurt’s last argument is that the trial court erred when it ordered him to remove all guns and ammunition from his home within 24 hours and prohibited him from having guns brought back into his home until M.A.R.R. had attained the age of 18. In support of his contention, he claims: (1) there is no evidence in the record to justify this order; and (2) the order violates his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

We need not address Kurt’s constitutional issue because, based upon the evidence presented at trial, we hold that the trial court erred by inserting this clause into the judgment order. See Mulay v. Mulay, 225 Ill. 2d 601, 607 (2007) (as a general rule, courts will address constitutional issues only as a last resort, relying whenever possible on nonconstitutional grounds to decide cases).

In its letter opinion, the trial court noted that extensive testimony was given regarding Kurt’s collection of guns. It acknowledged that Kurt, Andrea, and both of Andrea’s parents testified that the guns were kept in a locked safe in a closet located behind a locked door to Kurt’s bedroom. Although the court noted that Andrea’s father testified that he thought he once saw a gun in the garage, it also said that the father had no specific information about the gun, and that no one else at trial corroborated that incident. Nevertheless, the court went on to find that it was not in the child’s best interests to have multiple guns and ammunition in a home.

Based upon the evidence presented at trial, as well as the trial court’s own specific findings, it was not reasonable for the court to place such a restriction on Kurt’s lawful possession of ammunition or guns without any evidence of danger to the child. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s ruling on this issue….

It’s very disappointing that the lower court apparently allowed itself to indulge its own anti-gun biases, especially in light of the facts of the case that were presented. It is true that the lower court had to deal with a wide variety of issues in this matter — from child support to vaccinations — but that’s no excuse for making a decision based on the intuition of the court rather than the facts before them.

(Hat tip: The Volokh Conspiracy).

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  1. A court actually recognizes the constitutional guarantee, “shall not be infringed”? That is refreshing.

    • Don’t get too refreshed. The appeals court specifically declined to consider the constitutional guarantee. This was a plain evidentiary ruling, the trial court went waaaaaay beyond its perogatives in making a ruling based on no evidence in the record.

      • To be fair, it’s a good ruling. It addresses the issue at bar without going into deep legal theory.

        • You’re right. This trial court’s ruling didn’t have to run afoul of the Constitution to make it abominable. And we should actually be glad to see appeals courts restrain themselves from unnecessarily tinkering around with the Constitution, for the most part.

  2. What is up with the paranoia that people have about “multiple guns”. You can generally only shoot one at a time. Misuse of one gun can lead to injury or death just like misuse of many guns.

    Someone with a dozen guns is probably less likely to have an accident than a guy with one firearm. The “dozen gun guys” generally have gun safes, and more firearm experience than the “one gun – non gun-guy” people.

    The lower court not only needs to have it’s decision reversed, but also face impeachment over the severity of it’s misconduct

    • Not sure. Most people I know with multiple firearms go the extra mile to take care of them as opposed the the person with just one.

  3. The judge in the lower court should be removed from the bench. Period. Its about time we start becoming a boil on the asses of our reps, and senators, and demand legislation that would remove any judge that would allow ANY violation of ones rights, due to personal biases.

    • This does sound like cause for an ethics committee review. The Judge clearly allowed their personal bias to override the presented evidence and precedents. They made a highly disruptive ruling based on exactly nothing.

    • Sadly the family court judge is far from the worst we have in this state; if you ever want to laugh then cry spend a day watching Cook County family or Criminal court proceedings. You have so many judges who simply shouldn’t be on the bench its not even funny.

  4. These people would have a heart attack over the households that have loaded guns in almost every room.

    Seriously though, he has an almost unreasonable amount of safety precautions (padlocked bedroom and closet?) and yet the trial court managed to inject their bias.

    • And a keypad lock on the bedroom? Good grief! Wanna bet that was the work of his crazy former wife?

        • It sounds more like the ex and the ex-in-laws need to be removed from the child until she is 18.

        • Ole Kurt needs a good smack in the back of the head for marrying into this family of loons. NOTHING could have been that good about Andrea. It’s all nurture. Parents are crazy, the daughter will be also. Daddykins has never owned a gun should be warning sign #1.

          The best advice ever given – “never chase a woman or a bus, another will be along shortly”.

  5. “…but that’s no excuse for making a decision based on the intuition of the court rather than the facts before them.”

    I wouldn’t call that intuition.

    I’d call it prejudiced.

  6. Maybe someday Brian Aitken will get HIS custody back. The family court system is totally broken in the USA.

  7. I was awarded (ha awarded) custody of both of my children at my divorce trial. At the trial my ex and her new family said that I carried a gun for the sole purpose of intimidation. Although no threats had been made, I had never brandished the weapon nor were there any reports from the children about me being unsafe with guns. Interestingly enough they had guns in their house and when my attorney asked them where the guns were located each person had a different answer.
    The trial judge still went on to stipulate in his ruling that I was not allowed to carry a gun to the custody exchanges or any sporting or after school events where the children would be. Even if it was lawful to carry a weapon there.

  8. I was worried about something like this happening during my Divorce in Lake County IL.
    I had a real threat to worry about and the threat of losing custody of my son if I pursued my License To Carry Handgun. This is not uncommon to happen in IL for gunowners. I’m glad there is now a precedent to stop other IL gun owners from having to worry about this.

    • “I’m glad there is now a precedent to stop other IL gun owners from having to worry about this.”

      Unfortunately, this is NOT a precedent that protects the rights of divorced parents to have firearms and custody. The appellate court merely reversed the lower court decision because it was not based on any evidence.

  9. “Nevertheless, the court went on to find that it was not in the child’s best interests to have multiple guns and ammunition in a home. Based upon the evidence presented at trial, as well as the trial court’s own specific findings, it was not reasonable for the court to place such a restriction on Kurt’s lawful possession of
    ammunition or guns without any evidence of danger to the child.”
    Evidence of danger – So the trial judge assumes that the mere presence of guns and ammunition are a danger. This is the left thinking at it’s most primal. That the presence of guns could actually “protect” the child never even entered into the trial judges head. What really worries me is I wonder how the appellate judge would have ruled if Kurt had not been so thorough in keeping his guns double locked?

  10. They may have declined to consider the 2a question, but believe you me it figured handily into the decision; kicking that can down the road would only result in a permanent federal rebuke, and they have SO many more bright ideas to ram down our throats…

  11. Good to see this rulingSorry. the dad with custody had to go through this s##t…Yeah I know I live in Cook-honestly Dupage. is much more Republican…a win is a win.

  12. I would have liked stronger language. Rather than calling the lower court’s ruling ‘not reasonable’ I would say it was “baseless!”

    But I guess a win’s a win.

  13. The original court ruling is yet more evidence why I strongly recommend to young men that they should reject marriage if they want to be in control of their own lives, especially their rights to property and to keep and bear arms, rather than live as serfs of the feminists and their minions in the court system(s).

    The case law and statute law is now so heavily stacked against men that you’d better be very, very, very certain of who you are marrying before you propose. The laws rarely change in the direction of becoming more favorable towards men, and feminists are constantly agitating for more punitive laws against men.

    Since more than a few women have turned from seemingly reasonable people in their youth to psychotic broom pilots later in divorce court, I come down on the side of recommending young men never get married.

  14. Here is just another example of the court system acting illegally and trampling on the Bill of Rights. This judge should be removed from the bench, charged, put on trial, convicted and sentenced to prison for violation of civil rights under color of law. If we start prosecuting judges for infringements like this one maybe we can get our freedom back.

  15. I just saw that my case was posted all over the internet. I am the father in this case.

    There was no legal recourse for me. I had an attorney up through trial, and could not afford him for the appeal. He was hesistant to take on the gun issue in the Appellate. I declared bankruptcy after the trial and wrote the appeal on my own Pro Se and yes I did pervail. However, after the appellate ruling, the same judge who issued the rulings that were overturned ordered me to pay half of opposing counsel legal fees. I may have gotten my rights to own firearms back, but the guns are long gone, and I’m stuck with an approximately $15,000 tab to the losing attorney, and in a second bankruptcy right now holding on for dear life. I have read a lot of what has been posted in comments and it seems that everyone else is smarter than the trial court was. Thank you for brightening up my day.


    • Kurt,
      It seems to me that all you cared about during this trial were your guns and money. I feel sorry for your child. What about the rights for MARR?
      These previous comments are nothing but overly paranoid NRA supporters that are most likely hiding in closets still waiting to be sent to a FEMA camp or for Obama to come take their guns.
      Sad and sorry for both your child and your ex.

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