New comprehensive reform ends ‘deadly loophole’ in Illinois’ gun laws

New comprehensive reform ends ‘deadly loophole’ in Illinois’ gun laws

Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds up new gun reform legislation signed into law Monday at the Aurora Police Department. | Screenshot

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law requiring universal background checks even for private sales and helps the Illinois State Police seize guns from people with revoked firearm licenses.

The state’s gun laws will now require universal background checks on all gun sales — including private sales — under legislation signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday.

“In an America, where gun violence has become a scourge to so many neighborhoods, Illinois is taking a commonsense approach to reform and we’re doing so with votes from both sides of the aisle,” Pritzker said. “I pray, and I really do pray, that not a day too soon the nation will follow Illinois’ lead.”

The legislation’s key feature of expanding background checks on all gun sales puts an end to what Pritzker called “a deadly loophole” that happens with private sales. These transactions will now have to adhere to federal background checks.

“Prior to this change people with dangerous histories who shouldn’t possess a weapon — and the Illinois State Police denies firearm licenses to thousands of these individuals a year — could avoid detection through a private sale,” Pritzker said. “That’s a deadly loophole, and in Illinois, we are closing that down for good.”

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said before the legislation a person selling a gun privately would just need to verify a person had a valid Firearm Owners Identification card online.

“That did not cover all the federal requirements that exist when someone goes in to purchase a firearm at a federally licensed firearm dealer,” Kelly said. “What this process does, and with the changes in this legislation, will mirror now those federal requirements.”

Universal background checks for firearm sales will begin in 2024.

The legislation will also invest in community-based mental health programs in communities most impacted by gun violence. It will create a stolen gun database and will require ISP to monitor state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers.

It also streamlines the FOID card system by allowing ISP to create electronic records that combined FOID and concealed carry licenses. This offers cardholders the opportunity to apply for renewals six months before the expiration date and establishes a professional appeals board.

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, said it was important to strike a balance that kept guns out the hands of dangerous people while also not punishing responsible gun owners.

“As a responsible gun owner myself, I wanted to make sure the FOID renewal process is fair and timely,” said Koehler, a co-sponsor of the bill. “But I think something that we can agree on as a common interest is that we need to make sure that our communities are safer, whether it be rural or urban, upstate or downstate, our communities have to be made safer.”

The bill was signed at the Aurora Police Department in honor of those killed during a 2019 mass shooting at an Aurora factory. Gary Martin, 45, had brought a .40-caliber handgun to work the day he was fired and went on a shooting spree that killed five people and injured six others.

Martin’s gun should’ve been seized years earlier due to a revoked FOID card because of his criminal record.

This legislation will mandate ISP seize revoked FOID cards and remove guns from people who have lost their licenses for gun ownership. It will also help fund ISP’s efforts from FOID card fees.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said this legislation “will save lives” and will prevent an Aurora-style mass shooting in the future.

“State police will monitor the state and federal crime databases to compare them with our FOID license holders and can initiate revocation proceedings,” Welch said. “This will ensure that those who are a danger to themselves or others will not have a firearm.”

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