Illinois residents won’t have to submit fingerprints to the state to get a gun license after the Senate closed out an overtime session without taking up the bill.
The House passed an amendment to Senate Bill 1966 that would have raised fees to get a Firearm Owner Identification card and require applicants to submit fingerprints. The Senate did not take up the measure before leaving Sunday.
State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, supported the bill.
“It’s certainly something that both chambers of the Democratic party are committed to and we’re going to continue to push in the fight for this legislation,” Morgan said.
Sponsors of the measure said the fingerprinting mandate was 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 That man killed five people at an Aurora warehouse in February even after his FOID card was revoked.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.
Illinois State Police later reported there were more than 10,000 revocations in 2018 alone, many of which were never followed up on. Supporters of SB1966 said fingerprinting and other provisions would have tightened that up.
State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, opposed the measure and said there were other ways to address gun violence instead of making 2 million gun owners submit fingerprints.
“We got to focus on mental illness and school safety, but FOID cards are not going to prevent these types of incidents, I don’t believe they will,” Chesney said.
Other opponents of the measure said the FOID card is being already challenged in court and if a fingerprinting mandate were passed, that’d be challenged too.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said she has an idea to discourage lawmakers from knowingly passing unconstitutional legislation.
“I might do this next year, when a legislator runs a piece of legislation that we know is going to be litigated that that individual legislator should be personally responsible for the expenses incurred by the state when we know we’re going to run something that is going to be constitutionally unsound and is going to be litigated,” Bryan said.
Supporters of the measure said fingerprinting was necessary to prevent criminals from getting guns.
A separate measure addressing gun owners in Illinois, Senate Bill 1139, did pass both chambers. It would allow current and former police officers to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, and allow active duty military members younger than 21 to apply for a FOID card without parental consent.