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Illinois Senate Democrats renew push for stricter gun laws

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- Democratic state lawmakers have re-introduced their plan to require Illinois gun owners to provide fingerprints for FOID cards.

Senate Bill 568 would also require background checks and allow Illinois State Police to look into improving the FOID card system. In addition, it could provide funding to communities most affected by gun violence.

Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) explained that 15 other states have similar laws for gun owners and purchasers. He noted the legislation already has support from law enforcement agencies like the Illinois State Police.

"If you are someone that should not have a gun, should not have a firearm, we want to make sure that the Illinois State Police has the wherewithal and the resources to remove their illegal firearms," said Villivalam.

According to a report from John Hopkins School of Public Health, gunfire took the lives of 1,547 Illinoisans in 2017 alone.

"The statistics do not lie," said Villivalam. "If we have a strong licensing system and combine that with background checks, the statistics show that gun violence will be reduced by 40%."

Villivalam also emphasized this is an idea lawmakers have been talking about for over a year. He said this bill could help prevent more violent tragedies from taking place in Illinois.

ISRA: "It's unconstitutional"

Still, the Illinois State Rifle Association said they strongly oppose the proposal. They say there's a problem with forcing gun owners to provide their fingerprints to authorities.

"We think it's unconstitutional," said ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. "There's no reason to treat people like criminals. We're opposed to that."

However, Villivalam said a majority of people in his district fully support the initiative.

"I believe this legislation has the support of the American public," said Villivalam. "If you look, for example, at the tenant background checks, that's supported by 90% of the American public."

The measure awaits further discussion in the Senate Executive Committee.

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Ali Rasper

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