A groundbreaking bipartisan federal gun package received a boost on Tuesday, with tentative support from U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.
As members of Congress tiptoe toward federal action, state lawmakers are also focusing on gun measures.
Illinois is often mentioned in national discussions of gun laws. After the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas Governor Greg Abbott pointed to Chicago’s gun crime as a sign that Illinois’ relatively strict gun laws were ineffective.
Critics dispute that neighboring states blame and blame weaker laws for undermining Illinois’ efforts to crack down on gun trafficking by causing an influx of guns.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Illinois has “strong” gun laws; the organization 2021 review ranks the state eighth in the country.
• Illinois is among states with a red flag law, which creates a path for firearms to be temporarily removed from someone a court deems dangerous.
• In 2013, forced by a court ruling, Illinois became the last state to allow concealed carry.
• A license is required to have a firearm in public. All gun owners must also have a FOID or Gun Owners Identification Card.
• Last spring, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation (House Bill 562 / Public Law 102-0237) to “fix” FOID, streamlining the renewal process for concealed carry and FOID cards, requiring sellers to register private gun sales, creating a state database of stolen guns, and encouraging applicants to provide their fingerprints.
But in the wake of high-profile mass shootings and rising crime, what more can be done is attract attention.
State Representative Denyse Wang Stoneback, a Democrat from Skokie, is a sponsor of a measure (House Bill 5535) that would establish a commission to combat gun trafficking, require handgun safety training for FOID applicants, and allow for the issuance of a search warrant so that police can more easily recover the weapons of a person whose FOID has been revoked.
She also said Illinois should close what she called a loophole (House Bill 2541) which could put domestic victims at risk. Under the plan, when a court grants a protective order, the alleged perpetrator (or defendant) would have to surrender their weapons to law enforcement for two years.
“When a person’s FOID card is revoked because they are responding to a domestic violence protection order, they are often allowed to transfer their firearms to an immediate family member. But sometimes they continue to have the exact same access to that weapon because they may live nearby, or they may even live in the same household. And that’s something we really need to change,” Stoneback said.
Another measure Stoneback introduced earlier this year, but was not successful, would ban concealed carry on properties in the “high traffic” Cook County Park District (HB4296), after a 2021 court ruling found that a state law banning guns on all Cook County park property was too broad.
Stoneback, who faces a major re-election challenge, also said Illinois could help investigations of gun crimes by requiring ballistic technology known as micro-stamping.
But what if there is no weapon at a crime scene?
Micro-marking effectively marks balls.
“The micro-stamping would ensure that there is a code, an alphanumeric code, on the firing pin so that when a bullet is discharged, when the gun is fired, it would be printed on the shell casing,” said Stoneback. “And you would be able to trace that alphanumeric code printed on the hull casing back to the firearm without actually recovering the firearm itself. The serial number, brand and first purchaser of this weapon would be data available to law enforcement.
New York just passed a micro-stamping law, though skeptics say it’s not a magic bullet and wonder if etching could be erased, the logistics of maintaining a database and pushback from manufacturers.
So far, Stoneback’s proposal to establish a state subsidy program for microstamps (House Bill 2769) is stalled in Springfield.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford awaits his plan (House Bill 5380), also dealing with bullets, will pass once lawmakers reconvene.
Ford, with the the support of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, wants to close a loophole that allows people whose FOID cards have been revoked to buy ammo.
“If you can’t buy a gun, you can’t buy ammunition. If you can’t own a gun, you can’t own ammunition. And if your FOID card is revoked, you can’t go to an armory to buy ammo. Why should we allow this to continue? If people keep buying ammunition, that means they have guns somewhere to use the ammunition for,” Ford said. “When you think about guns, gun proliferation, it’s going to keep happening and I don’t know if we can stop that…so if we start targeting (bullets)…ammunition are the ones that we can really slow down and reduce gun violence if we focus on that.
Ford said Illinois should require fingerprinting as part of background checks, but recent attempts to do so have failed.
Instead, Illinois, with its 2021 FOID changes, has begun offering an incentive: sharing fingerprints for faster processing of firearms permits.
In 2020, gun owners filed a complaint against the Illinois State Police with the complaint that the state was so slow to process FOID requests that the ISP was breaking the law.
While the state credits law 2021 by reducing the backlog and making the process more efficient, many gun owners and Fords remain dissatisfied.
“Fixing the FOID is something we should really consider,” Ford said. “We have to look for ways to get rid of it or we have to fix it, because it’s really causing a problem.”
Republican gubernatorial candidates have also criticized FOID and called for its elimination.
Gun control is not strictly partisan in Illinois.
To wit: Democrats control state government and hold supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature, but Democratic-sponsored efforts to pass mandatory fingerprinting bills have fallen flat .
Given that dynamic, State Rep. Kathleen Willis, (D-Addison), says she doubts a gun registry will pass even though she thinks it might help.
“We have registered cars. So why can’t we register firearms? The big fear always comes from the gun lobby that it’s a big brother getting in too much,” Willis said. “But you know, if you’re a legal gun owner, we don’t care how many guns you own. Why are you afraid to report it? »
Willis said while she knows most firearms used in crimes are obtained illegally, a registry could help given they were originally purchased legally.
Willis is a law sponsor (House Bill 4729 / Public Law 102-1067) signed last Friday that requires the state to implement a public awareness campaign on safe gun storage, “trying to get gun owners to recognize the dangers children face. pick up guns and tragedies occur in their homes. Whether it’s toddlers or teenagers, if those guns are safely secured – that way, the gun owner will have them for what he needs, but we can keep them out of the reach of (children) and avoid tragedies at home.
Bills have been introduced in the General Assembly going the other way, such as those to lift restrictions on firearms.
But these have had even more trouble moving forward and that shouldn’t change anytime soon.
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @amandavinicky