SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In response to the February mass shooting in Aurora, Illinois that resulted in the tragic loss of five lives and injuries that responding police officers and civilians are still recovering from, state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, is working to pass bipartisan comprehensive gun licensing reform supported by the law enforcement community.
“The fact that our state does not require FOID card applicants to submit their fingerprints for a comprehensive background check led the Illinois State Police to approve an application for the man who went on to murder five people in our community. Had our law enforcement agencies gotten the full picture, they would have seen his violent criminal record from out of state,” Conroy said. “This man purchased his gun legally, before our State Police discovered his dangerous history months afterward and asked him to hand over his weapon. Even though law enforcement knew he’d purchased a gun, there was no system in place to ensure he turned it in. So many lives could have been saved in this instances like this if law enforcement agencies had better access to information about applicants and the tools they need to get illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
The “Fix the FOID Act” expands background checks to all firearm purchases by removing the current exemption for some private transfers. This legislation strengthens background checks for FOID card applicants by requiring fingerprint submissions, which increases law enforcement’s ability to discover out-of-state convictions. Currently, only individuals applying for concealed carry permits are fingerprinted, which is how the Illinois State Police discovered that the Aurora shooter had a violent criminal record dating back to 1995.
This legislation requires coordination between the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement to ensure that individuals who’ve had their FOID cards revoked surrender their guns. Under the Act, FOID cards must be renewed more frequently to ensure there are regular background checks for gun owners. Application fees would be increased, with $4 from every FOID card dedicated to school-based mental health services.
“I worked with my colleagues to ensure that a portion of new funds raised from FOID card applications are dedicated to school-based mental health centers,” Conroy said. “As a state we must commit to making mental wellbeing a priority by providing the financial resources schools need to eliminate stigma and serve our young people who might be struggling.”