A proposal to require those seeking an Illinois Firearm Owner Identification card to provide fingerprints is being called necessary by some and unconstitutional by others.
Assistant House Majority Leader Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, said the measure she proposed in an amendment to Senate Bill 1966 would increase the fee for FOID cards to $50 for five years instead of $10 for ten years.
“We need that money to be able to have the resources to work on the revocations and to get that back taken care of,” Willis said.
Willis said the measure is in response to the Aurora shooting earlier this year where an employee opened fire at a warehouse and killed five coworkers when he learned he was being fired. The shooter got a FOID card after lying about a previous felony conviction in another state and bought a gun after that application was approved. Illinois State Police later revoked the shooter's FOID card in 2014 when he applied for a concealed-carry permit, which included fingerprints. Illinois State Police rejected his concealed-carry application because fingerprints with that application flagged the man's 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi. That revocation shortly after he bought the gun, but the man didn't relinquish his card or gun. ISP later reported there were more than 10,000 revocations in 2018, many of which were never followed up on.
“We put in stronger mandates for the courts to make sure that they are doing a check right there and make sure that if they have someone in front of them and they do a check and there's a revocation there, take care of it right there and then,” Willis said. “Better communication with the state police and local law enforcement, again, to help make that a smoother transition.”
Those who already have a FOID would be grandfathered in. They wouldn't have to comply with the new regulations until their card expired, Willis said.
“They will need to get fingerprints and it will shorten their FOID time to five years as opposed to ten years, but once you get fingerprints once, you’re good for life,” Willis said.
Fingerprinting is an option in the state’s concealed-carry application as a way to speed up the application process. Fingerprints are not required.
Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said the cost of mandating fingerprinting for FOID applicants could be upward to $300, when considering the increased FOID fees, the fingerprinting and the travel to a vendor to get the fingerprints. That would be compounded for families where everyone has a FOID card and for the poor.
“So there’s a lot of problems with this bill and it shows where the anti-gun movement wants to go, they want to wipe out private gun ownership in Illinois,” Pearson said.
Pearson said the FOID card could be tweaked when it comes to notifications of revocation, but other than that he said it's fine as it is.
The man responsible for the Aurora warehouse shooting fell through the cracks, which Pearson said was on law enforcement for failing to enforce existing laws.
The measure would require all FOID card applicants to provide fingerprints.
State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, who supports getting rid of the FOID card altogether, said the idea of mandating fingerprinting is fundamentally wrong.
“The fingerprinting thing is, in my mind, blatantly unconstitutional,” Anderson said. “There is no other amendment in the Bill of Rights where you have to provide fingerprints to exercise that right.”
Senate Bill 1966 has yet to be amended, but is in the House Judiciary Committee.