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Automatic FOID renewals for gun owners voluntarily giving fingerprints: Proposal passes out of House

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A bipartisan group of Illinois representatives passed a plan Wednesday to create an electronic FOID card, among other changes to modernize the firearm owner ID.

The legislation could create an electronic version of the FOID. It also consolidates the FOID with concealed carry licenses for those who have both. Sponsors hope to encourage gun owners to voluntarily give their fingerprints to Illinois State Police through this plan. If they do, those gun owners would have automatic renewals for their FOID cards.

The plan also provides state police with funding to deal with the backlog of FOID and CCL applications. Democrats hope it can help get guns out of the hands of people with revoked FOID cards.

"The Illinois State Rifle Association is neutral on this bill," explained Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea). "So, we have gun violence prevention advocates while we have the state rifle association neutral. To me, that shows this is a reasonable piece of legislation."

Still, some have concerns over a requirement for background checks on private sales of guns. Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) says Democratic policies like this bill encourage crime. Although, Chesney argues Republican districts don't have crime problems like Democratic cities.

"We arm our citizens and we put bad people in jail. That's why people move in our districts," Chesney said. "I know this is uncomfortable. But, I think the majority party needs to hear this because this will do nothing to keep your communities safer. Absolutely nothing!"

Republicans worry it won't address gun violence

Other Republicans also said reforms in this bill won't help state police with the growing backlog, impeding gun owners' rights. A separate proposal previously passed in the House would have required fingerprints from every gun owner. However, sponsors knew it didn't have enough votes to pass out of both chambers.

While Republicans argue gun control bills passed Wednesday won't truly stop crime in the state, Democrats feel it's a decisive step in the right direction.

"Gun violence is a public health epidemic whether it be death by suicide by firearm, domestic partner violence, mass shootings, everyday gun violence. And this bill that Leader Hoffman passed today with the help of a bipartisan group goes a long way to address those issues," said Rep. Maura Hirschauer (D-Batavia).

Hirschauer also said Democrats wouldn't feed into what she called a false narrative Republicans created during floor debate. Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch hopes Republicans can rise above the divisive language and change how they talk about the state in general.

The "Fix the FOID" bill passed on a 75-40 vote. Senators previously approved the bill on a 40-17. The legislation should move to Pritzker's desk for final approval. However, Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) filed a motion to reconsider the vote shortly after it passed out of the House.

Hoffman told the Capitol Bureau he expects Manley to remove the procedural block on the bill shortly.

"We have to keep our communities safe by preventing guns from falling into dangerous hands, while at the same time not infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners," said Senate Sponsor Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). "This legislation helps achieve both goals."

Improving the firearm restraining order law

Another proposal passed Wednesday strengthens the firearm restraining order law in Illinois. At this time, the state can temporarily take guns away from people who pose a significant risk to themselves or others.

Democrats found the law underutilized up to this point due to lack of awareness and inconsistent implementation. The new legislation requires annual training for police on the use of firearm restraining orders. Law enforcement could also take ammo and parts to assemble a gun away from someone after a FRO is granted.

Rep. Denyse Stoneback says the bill requires IDPH to create an education campaign to help people understand the firearms restraining order process.

"House Bill 1092 addresses the gaps in the law and will work to prevent future mass shootings, hate crimes, domestic violence, gun crimes, and gun-related suicides," Stoneback said. "With this bill, we have an opportunity to prevent gun tragedies before they occur."

That legislation passed on a 61-47 vote in the House. The Senate approved the bill on a 33-19 vote on May 31. Stoneback's bill now heads to Pritzker's desk for approval.

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Mike Miletich

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