Press Release

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Rallies Illinois Advocates, Elected Officials to Close Gun Licensing Loopholes

 Congresswoman Giffords joined ILGVP Coalition Digital Day of Action to urge Illinois lawmakers to pass commonsense gun safety policies

SB 1966, the BIO Bill to Fix the FOID, address loopholes of Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification system

Washington, DC — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, rallied with Illinois advocates, lawmakers, and gun violence survivors to highlight the urgent need for the state’s legislature to close gun licensing loopholes. Congresswoman Giffords’ calls for action were part of the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition’s Digital Day of Action. Broadcasted live on social media, participants pressured the Illinois legislature to pass commonsense gun safety legislation like SB 1966, the Block Illegal Ownership (BIO) Bill to Fix the FOID system in Illinois, which seeks to improve the state’s firearm licensing, and relinquishment laws to address the illegal ownership of guns in the state.

“The people of Illinois raised their voices today, calling for immediate action on lifesaving gun safety legislation,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “Illinois can be a leader in ending gun violence in our nation, and for that to happen, legislators need to keep hearing from their motivated constituents. I am inspired by the action and determination shown by so many during this day of action.”

The Digital Day of Action brought together voices from across Illinois for a daylong event. Speakers from 50 different organizations shared their stories of gun violence, and detailed ways to address gun safety during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“As gun violence continues to devastate communities across Illinois in the midst of a global pandemic, the need for legislation like the BIO (Block Illegal Gun Ownership) Bill is greater than ever,” said Kathleen Sances, president and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee (GVPAC). “We are grateful to survivor and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for rallying with hundreds of residents across Illinois to demand that immediate action is taken to pass the BIO Bill and end preventable acts of gun violence.”

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined to put a focus on fighting to make the state’s laws even stronger by passing measures like SB 1966. The BIO bill is a critical fix to Illinois’ FOID system by ensuring people prohibited from accessing guns are unable to get their hands on a firearm. Last legislative session, the state House passed the legislation while the Senate refused to call the bill for a vote.

On February 15, 2019, a person with a significant criminal history brought a gun into the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring six others. Although both federal and Illinois law prohibited the shooter from possessing a gun, he 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 and the shooter did not turn in his firearm.

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 Cardholder subsequently becomes prohibited from gun possession, State Police send the individual a notice of revocation of the FOID Card and direct them to give up any guns in their possession and submit a Firearm Disposition Record to State Police confirming that they have done so. According to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune, more than 34,000 people from 2015 to 2019 had their FOID cards revoked. Existing law does not have a clear process, however, to ensure that people who have had their FOID cards revoked relinquish their firearms.

The BIO Bill to Fix the FOID Act:

  • Requires a point-of-sale background check for all gun sales, including those by a private seller.

  • Requires FOID applicants to apply in person with the State Police.

  • Requires FOID applicants to submit fingerprints as part of their application.

  • Mandates the State Police take action to remove guns once a FOID Card is revoked.

  • Reduces the FOID Card duration from 10 years to 5 years.

  • Strengthens the concealed carry license process.