HB 2989: Sentencing for Emerging Adults with Firearms

House Sponsor

 Representative La Shawn Ford

Young people are more impulsive, susceptible to peer pressure, and more likely to grow out of their mistakes; people 20 and younger cannot purchase alcohol or cigarettes, drive a commercial vehicle across state lines, or rent a car. Our laws already treat teenagers and 20 year olds differently than adults.  

Neuroscience research has established the brain continues developing into a person’s mid to late 20s. “[The] qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18,” the U.S. Supreme Court explained (Roper v. Simmons). People continue leading with emotion into their 20s; the parts of the brain that allow for impulse control and that govern judgement are among the last to form. The amount of brain development in the 20s is comparable to the extent of development in early childhood


Illinois law adds 15, 20, or 25 years to life to prison sentences of people 18 and older who had firearms during the commission of certain felonies. Fifteen years are added if a firearm is possessed but not discharged; 20 years are added if the gun is discharged with no injuries; and 25 years are added if there is a death or grievous injury—no matter what. 

Acknowledging young people are different, Governor Rauner signed HB 2471 into law in 2015. This negotiated legislation passed the Senate unanimously and was chief co-sponsored in the House by Representatives Barbara Flynn Currie, Scott Drury, Ron Sandack, and Ed Sullivan. Public Act 99-069 (HB 2471) made firearm enhancements discretionary for people younger than 18 and established a nine-point framework for setting appropriate sentences, as opposed to mandatory gun enhancements for everyone, regardless of circumstances. 

After years of experience and success for those under 18, HB 2989 would expand this successful sentencing framework to 18, 19, and 20 year olds.

Bill Status

The bill was introduced in the House on February 18, 2021.


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