(720 ILCS 5/33A-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 33A-1)
    Sec. 33A-1. Legislative intent and definitions.
    (a) Legislative findings. The legislature finds and declares the following:
        (1) The use of a dangerous weapon in the commission
of a felony offense poses a much greater threat to the public health, safety, and general welfare, than when a weapon is not used in the commission of the offense.
        (2) Further, the use of a firearm greatly facilitates
the commission of a criminal offense because of the more lethal nature of a firearm and the greater perceived threat produced in those confronted by a person wielding a firearm. Unlike other dangerous weapons such as knives and clubs, the use of a firearm in the commission of a criminal felony offense significantly escalates the threat and the potential for bodily harm, and the greater range of the firearm increases the potential for harm to more persons. Not only are the victims and bystanders at greater risk when a firearm is used, but also the law enforcement officers whose duty is to confront and apprehend the armed suspect.
        (3) Current law does contain offenses involving the
use or discharge of a gun toward or against a person, such as aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and reckless discharge of a firearm; however, the General Assembly has legislated greater penalties for the commission of a felony while in possession of a firearm because it deems such acts as more serious.
    (b) Legislative intent.
        (1) In order to deter the use of firearms in the
commission of a felony offense, the General Assembly deems it appropriate for a greater penalty to be imposed when a firearm is used or discharged in the commission of an offense than the penalty imposed for using other types of weapons and for the penalty to increase on more serious offenses.
        (2) With the additional elements of the discharge of
a firearm and great bodily harm inflicted by a firearm being added to armed violence and other serious felony offenses, it is the intent of the General Assembly to punish those elements more severely during commission of a felony offense than when those elements stand alone as the act of the offender.
        (3) It is the intent of the 91st General Assembly
that should Public Act 88-680 be declared unconstitutional for a violation of Article 4, Section 8 of the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois, the amendatory changes made by Public Act 88-680 to Article 33A of the Criminal Code of 1961 and which are set forth as law in this amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly are hereby reenacted by this amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly.
    (c) Definitions.
        (1) "Armed with a dangerous weapon". A person is
considered armed with a dangerous weapon for purposes of this Article, when he or she carries on or about his or her person or is otherwise armed with a Category I, Category II, or Category III weapon.
        (2) A Category I weapon is a handgun, sawed-off
shotgun, sawed-off rifle, any other firearm small enough to be concealed upon the person, semiautomatic firearm, or machine gun. A Category II weapon is any other rifle, shotgun, spring gun, other firearm, stun gun or taser as defined in paragraph (a) of Section 24-1 of this Code, knife with a blade of at least 3 inches in length, dagger, dirk, switchblade knife, stiletto, axe, hatchet, or other deadly or dangerous weapon or instrument of like character. As used in this subsection (b) "semiautomatic firearm" means a repeating firearm that utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round and that requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.
        (3) A Category III weapon is a bludgeon, black-jack,
slungshot, sand-bag, sand-club, metal knuckles, billy, or other dangerous weapon of like character.
(Source: P.A. 91-404, eff. 1-1-00; 91-696, eff. 4-13-00.)