The NRA’s state affiliate in the Land of Lincoln helped negotiate a new bill to modernize the state’s much-hated Firearm Owner Identification Card Act. The Illinois State Rifle Association then went neutral on the new gun control language after its formal introduction, tacitly supporting HB562‘s passage while every other gun rights organization went on record opposing the measure.
ISRA’s surprising neutrality on the final language was actually discussed during the brief Senate floor debate before the bill passed in the Senate. It now heads back to the House for a pro-forma concurrence vote.
So, what did ISRA’s lobbying team achieve in their negotiations? HB562 now requires every private gun sale to be reported within 10 days (for a fee of up to $25 per gun) to a federally licensed dealer by the gun’s buyer. That creates a whole new record-keeping requirement on top of the existing ten-year record-keeping requirement for the seller. What’s more, it also smells a lot like the precursor to formal gun registration in Honest Abe’s home state.
Also, if the buyer fails to record and retain the name of the dealer to which the purchase was reported, you can lose your gun rights entirely. Welcome to Illinois.
If paying $25 for the privilege of registering your acquisition of a gun through a lawful private sale sounds a lot like a state-mandated tax of sorts to buy a firearm, well, you’re right.
Will gang members in Chicago — as of this writing at 267 homicides (more than 31 entire states reported for the entire year of 2019) — spend $25 to register each and every one of their “acquisitions” at their local gun store? We have no doubt.
What happens if Joe Sixpack says, “Screw it! It’s none of the government’s business and I’m not registering the 12 guns I inherited from Uncle Alexander…especially at $25 a pop”? Failure to report the first firearm received is a Class A misdemeanor. The second or subsequent non-reported guns raise it to a felony – as in you lose your gun rights forever.
This is the deal the team of lobbyists at the Illinois State Rifle Association hammered out with Democrats running this bill. And this was the day after a bill mandating electronic fingerprints and an elimination of private gun sales stalled in the same Illinois Senate.
When we contacted ISRA for an explanation of why they took a neutral position on what many of us saw as a bad bill for gun owners, the group’s Executive Director Richard Pearson replied, “Dealers don’t have to do it, they aren’t liable for the accuracy of the records and we get people their FOID cards and ICCLs [Illinois concealed carry licenses]. There will be another day tomorrow.” In a subsequent text message, he wrote, “There are some rotten bastards involved. Explain later. Much later.”
What else does this new bill mandate? All emergency court orders will now require the suspension of firearm rights for the accused, even those orders that are issued ex parte, without the accused being present. That’s a total lack of due process
Previously, only protective orders that specified a firearms prohibition would trigger a (temporary) revocation of gun rights. In other words, under this bill, all emergency court orders will become red flag gun confiscation orders.
Now, under terms of HB562, those will automatically suspend a person’s gun rights, but later, if a judge later throws out the emergency ex parte order or it expires, the ISP will remove the suspension. When they get around to it.
Currently, FOIDs are revoked and those with vacated protective orders involving firearms ownership have to reapply from scratch and wait (and wait) months for the state to get around to issuing a new FOID card.
Asked if the state’s biggest and most influential gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action had any role in these negotiations between ISRA and the bill’s sponsors, the NRA-ILA’s rep for Illinois, John Weber, said “no.”
Mr. Weber noted that gun owners recently won a case in which the FOID Act was ruled unconstitutional.
Was there really a need to compromise on legislation reforming the FOID Act with that ruling in our favor and a slew of other pending lawsuits challenging the whole FOID scheme?
Other problematic areas in HB562 include the appointment of a partisan FOID review board by the governor to evaluate revocation appeals and petitions to restore firearm rights to reformed felons. Given how Pritzker once ran for Congress on the platform of banning the private ownership of handguns, you have to be remarkably naïve to believe any of his appointments will have an NRA membership card in their wallets.
In fact, as HB562 offers no standard of review for those FOID appeals, any previous due process standard could be thrown under the bus in favor of simply blocking all appeals and rights restoration claims.
On the upside, HB562 would allow for electronic versions of FOID cards and carry licenses. For a voluntarily submitted set of electronic fingerprints (at about $75-$100 per set), the bill will also allow for lifetime renewals of FOID cards with an additional roughly $30 in fees on top of the current $10 renewal fee for a 10-year card. Not exactly a bargain for those nearing retirement age.
Once again, this bill offers little in the way of a victory for law-abiding gun owners and prospective gun owners in the Land of Lincoln and plenty of reasons for gun rights orgs to oppose it. But not enough reasons for ISRA to oppose it.