SPRINGFIELD — 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.
Sen. Michael Hastings, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, said the bill is a response to a mass shooting Feb. 15 in Aurora where five people were killed by a man whose firearm owners identification, or FOID, card had been revoked because of a prior felony conviction.
“Because, 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gun laws to require the Illinois State Police to confiscate firearms and ammunition from any person whose FOID card has been revoked.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 would also require state police to report that person’s name to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
His proposal would also 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 United States, 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 would additionally 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 towards fixing that system.”
Hastings said he is building bipartisan support for the bill. A spokesman for Senate Republican Leader William Brady, however, said GOP lawmakers are still 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,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of ISRA.
Pearson noted there are many reasons why a person can have his or her FOID card revoked, including moving out of state, because FOID cards may only be issued to Illinois residents.
And 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 has now been assigned to the Judiciary Committee.