A state senator is proposing legislation that would tighten gun ownership laws in Illinois and require law enforcement officers to confiscate weapons and ammunition from people who have had their firearms permits revoked.
State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, said the bill is in response to a mass shooting Feb. 15 in Aurora, where five people were killed by a man whose firearm owner’s identification card had been revoked because of a previous felony conviction.
“The last thing I want is for somebody who’s a felon to have a firearm, and we saw the results of that in Aurora,” Hastings said.
Hastings is proposing to add new language to the state’s gun laws to require the Illinois State Police to confiscate firearms and ammunition from any person whose FOID card has been revoked. It also would require state police to report that person’s name to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
His proposal also would add several new categories of people who would be barred from owning guns in Illinois, including people who have outstanding felony warrants anywhere in the U.S., people who are subject to a protection from abuse order, people who have been dishonorably discharged from the military and anyone who is a fugitive from justice.
It additionally would impose stricter reporting requirements on local governments and prosecutors to report to the state police the names and other identifying information of anyone who has been convicted of a crime or judged to have a mental condition that would disqualify them from owning firearms so the state police could forward that information to the national criminal background database.
“Obviously, there’s been a longtime problem with the national criminal background check system,” Hastings said. “It’s been noted at the federal level, and it’s been noted across the country. So this bill is a comprehensive approach toward fixing that system.”
Hastings said he is building bipartisan support for the bill. A spokesman for state Senate Republican Leader William Brady, however, said GOP lawmakers still are reviewing the bill.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Illinois State Rifle Association said he has concerns about some of the specific language in the bill.
“Generally, we don’t like the idea,” ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said.
Pearson noted that there are many reasons why a person can have his or her FOID card revoked – including moving out of the state because FOID cards may only be issued to Illinois residents.
For those whose cards are revoked because of their criminal history or mental illness, Pearson said, there should be alternatives to having state police confiscate their guns and ammunition.
“First of all, they should be given an opportunity to turn them in or transfer them to another responsible party with a FOID card in Illinois,” he said.
Hastings said he plans to offer his proposal as an amendment to Senate Bill 44, which was introduced earlier in the session and now has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee.