Press Release

Giffords Praises the Introduction of Legislation that Closes Dangerous Loopholes in Illinois Gun Laws

After the shooting in Aurora, Illinois, took five lives, HB 96 seeks to ensure that people with violent criminal histories can’t get their hands on guns

April 9, 2019 Giffords, the gun violence organization led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, applauded State Rep. Kathy Willis for introducing HB 96, the Fix the FOID Act, which addresses gaps in the Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) system by ensuring that people with criminal histories who are prohibited from gun possession are not able to easily evade the law and arm themselves.

“A convicted felon should not be able to get their hands on a gun,” said Robin Lloyd, managing director at Giffords. “But even with Illinois’s stronger gun laws, gaps have allowed dangerous individuals to use firearms to cause devastating tragedies like the warehouse shooting in Aurora. It’s absolutely necessary for state leaders to take action and create a safer future for all Illinoisans. That’s why we applaud Rep. Willis for her leadership by introducing the Fix the FOID Act to increase accountability and make sure only law-abiding residents can buy guns. We look forward to helping move this bill swiftly through the legislature to reduce gun violence in the state.”

On February 15, 2019, a convicted felon brought a gun into the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring six others. Although Illinois gun laws prohibit people with violent criminal histories from buying firearms, the shooter was able to obtain a FOID card despite a 1995 aggravated assault conviction in Mississippi. The shooter then applied for a concealed carry license in March 2014 that flagged his 1995 conviction. He was sent a letter informing him that he was required to turn over his Firearm Disposition Record and surrender his weapons. However, law enforcement never followed up with the initial letter.

Current law requires individuals to obtain a FOID Card from the Department of State Police before purchasing a gun. To obtain the card, one must submit an application via mail or online attesting to the applicant’s eligibility to possess guns, a photo, and complete a background check by the State Police. If a FOID Card holder subsequently becomes prohibited from gun possession, State Police sends the individual a notice of revocation of the FOID Card and directs them to give up any guns in their possession and submit a Firearm Disposition Record to State Police confirming that they have done so.

The Fix the FOID Act will:

  • Require a background check for all gun sales, including those by a private seller.
  • Require FOID applicants to apply in person with the State Police.
  • Require FOID applicants to submit fingerprints as part of their application.
  • Mandate the State Police take action to remove guns once a FOID Card is revoked.
  • Reduce the FOID Card duration from 10 years to 5 years.
  • Strengthen the concealed carry license process.

The latest edition of the Giffords Law Center Annual Gun Law Scorecard found that Illinois received a “B+” for the strength of the state’s gun laws. Illinois strengthened its gun laws in the past year by enacting a gun dealer licensing requirement, an extreme risk protection order law, increased its investment in violence intervention programs, and extended its firearm waiting period. Illinois could further improve its grade by limiting bulk firearm purchases and restricting large-capacity magazines.