Gun owners from around the state plan to remind Illinois lawmakers about their opposition to a measure that would require those seeking a Firearm Owners Identification card to submit fingerprints on the first day of the fall legislative session.
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Oct. 28 for the first three days of the veto session. State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said he expects it to be a busy session with a lot of different issues coming up. The association will focus on Senate Bill 1966, a measure that would increase fees for Firearm Owner Identification cards.
“Depending on where you are in the state, it drives up the cost between $200 to $300 for every five years so it becomes cost-prohibitive for the law-abiding firearm owner to do this,” Pearson said.
The measure would also require FOID applicants to provide fingerprints at the applicant's expense.
“Remember the Second Amendment is a fundamental right,” Pearson said. “There’s no other fundamental right that requires fingerprinting or anything even close.”
Supporters of the measure have said fingerprinting is necessary to ensure people applying for a FOID card are allowed to have one. Sponsors of the measure said the fingerprinting mandate is needed to address loopholes in the system that led to a convicted felon from Mississippi getting a FOID card in Illinois, and buying a gun. That man killed five people at an Aurora warehouse in February even after his FOID card was revoked. State police revoked his FOID card after they discovered his felony conviction, which he had lied about on his initial application.
The bill has already passed the House. It is a Senate vote away from the governor’s desk.
“It’s down to the point where it just takes one vote in the Senate for this bill to become law and so we can’t take a chance on not being there,” Pearson said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he supports requiring fingerprints for FOID applications.
"It helps, it really does, we've got to be able to identify those FOID cardholders," the governor said in September.
Pearson said the association will host a legislative briefing at the Howlett Building on the capitol grounds Tuesday morning. The building’s auditorium holds 500 people. If more people show up, Pearson said the association will hold multiple briefings.
The association's initial focus will be on state Senators to fight against Senate Bill 1966. Then Pearson said gun owners will visit with Representatives to weigh in on other gun measures.
State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, who supports banning certain types of firearms like long rifles with certain attachments, doesn’t see that coming together before the end of the year.
“I do have some confidence that we’re going to be talking about those things in the next few weeks,” Morgan said, “I just don’t know given how short of a period of time veto session is that it will get done before the Spring session.”
Lawmakers are back Oct. 28 for three days and then again for three days beginning Nov. 12