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It’s a cold Friday morning and Bob is on your way to work, he arrives at work and it’s just a typical day on the job. While 40 miles outside of Chicago and in the middle of his work day and (BANG! BANG! BANG!) Bob hears gunfire coming from inside his place of employment. This and many other shootings like this have happened all over the country. Politicians point the finger at guns and gun manufactures for this problem, while gun-right advocates and gun owners blame it on the laws and flaws of the legal system. This issue has brought many highly debatable cases to the highest court in the country. Which brings use to the highly focused debate in Illinois, the ownership of guns in Illinois by whom and for what? The leaders of Illinois need to step up and pass legislation to create clear, cohesive, and effective gun standards and fix their permit issuing system for who will be allowed to own, purchase, and carry a gun and set a standard for other states to follow because the possession by those whom have illegal intentions and possess a firearm have led to many criminal shootings and violent attacks.
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Gun violence is everyone’s concern throughout the country with the amount of mass shootings and violent criminal attacks where guns are used. February 14, 2018, Parkland, Florida, 17 people killed, 14 others injured, by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz (Chuck, Johnson & Siemaszko, 2018). On May 18, 2018, Santa Fe, Texas, 17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, kills 8 students and 2 teachers, while injuring 13 others (Williams, Blankstein, Dienst & Siemaszko, 2018). On February 15, 2019, Gary Martin killed 5 colleagues, injured 5 police officers in a factory shooting in Aurora, IL (Stanglin, Madhani, & Brown, 2019). These are just a few of the mass shootings that have taken place in the past couple of years.
How strong or weak are the gun laws in our country? Look at some of the laws on background checks. All federally licensed firearms dealers must perform background checks on prospective purchasers, maintain records of all gun sales, make those records available for inspection to law enforcement when requested, report the theft or loss of a firearm from their inventory (Giffords Law Center, 2018). None of these requirements must be followed during unlicensed private gun sales or transfers. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have extended beyond the federal laws to somewhat make some firearm transactions require universal background checks from unlicensed sellers (Giffords Law Center, 2018).
When considering there is no federal standard for firearm transaction for unlicensed sellers. This makes it easy for citizens with criminal or illegal intentions to purchase and possess a firearm in the United States. Citizens with mental health illnesses can still obtain and purchase a firearm when they have a background check done, because many states fail to report a person’s mental health problem to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which allows gun dealers to quickly know if a person falls into a category prohibited from purchasing a firearm (Giffords Law Center, 2018). Many states feel that revealing this information is against a person’s right to privacy. According to a report from the Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms from June 2000, approximately 80% of all firearms obtained through private sales are for criminal purposes, and 96% of those transactions are by people who are prohibited from owning a firearm (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, 2000).
Taking this into account lets go back to Illinois, a state which requires it citizens to apply for a Firearms Owners Identification card (FOID) to buy and possess a firearm within the state. Some requirements directly from the Illinois State Police: Firearms Services Bureau (2019) to get a FOID card are the following:
I have never been convicted of a felony, not been a patient of a mental facility for the treatment of a mental illness within the past 5 years, have not used or been addicted to any controlled substance or narcotic in violation of state or federal law, have not within the past 5 years been convicted of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in which a firearm was used or possessed, have not within the past year failed a drug test for a drug for which I did not have a prescription, have never been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions, and I am not a fugitive of the law (Illinois State Police, 2019). The completed application, photo (head and shoulders only), a $10 fee, and must send copy of state ID or state driver’s license. The application is either approved or denied within 30 days of receipt by Illinois state police.
After seeing what the state of Illinois requires for a FOID card, which allows the card holder the right to own a firearm and purchase ammunition. To be able to purchase a firearm in Illinois, you must have a valid FOID card, pass the NICS background check, and wait the waiting period before you can walk out with your purchase. However, for someone with illegal intentions could cross over into a neighboring state with weaker gun laws, purchase a firearm and ammunition and bring it back into Illinois. So, the argument with this theory in mind? What does the FOID card due to prevent gun violence and criminal activities from happening here in Illinois?
Many citizens are in favor of laws to be stricter but not to the point that law abiding citizens are not able to exercise their rights-to-bear arms, and sportsmans enjoy their recreational shooting and even their hunting activities. Failure of a nationwide standard on gun control and permitting system the country will always have a problem with firearms and crime. Someone who wants a firearm for any reason can just go to another state, conduct their business, and then return to their home state.
Now, go back to the shooting in Aurora, IL, where Gary Martin killed 5 colleagues, injured 5 police officers in a factory shooting on February 15, 2019. Gary Martin was a FOID card holder, which was issued by the Illinois state police in Jan 2014, which allowed him to purchase the weapon he used in the shooting from a gun dealer in March 2014 (Stanglin, et al., 2019). When Martin applied for a concealed carry permit 5 days after purchasing the pistol he used, he was denied by the Illinois state police when his fingerprints revealed he had a felony conviction in Mississippi back in 1995, which caused his FOID card to be instantly revoked (Stanglin, et al., 2019). The FOID card was revoked and Martin should have received notification to surrender his FOID card to his local law enforcement agency. After the shooting took place in an interview the Aurora police chief, said that he should have turned it in, and then wondering whether law enforcement followed up with him or not, is the question. “We are looking into whether we followed up on that, or what agencies followed up on this,” the Aurora Chief of Police stated (Hanna, Karimi, & Almasy, 2019). This shooting raised many questions about firearm regulations, which turned up the heat on gun laws within the political parties of Illinois.
This incident caused a bill to be presented on the Illinois Senate floor for tighten gun laws. This proposal was IL Senate bill 1966, which was originally a bill to create a public defenders bail program, however when it went to the house, there were amendments added to tighten the gun laws in Illinois (Illinois General Assembly, 2019). The new amendments outraged many gun-advocacy groups, citizens, and county boards with these new ideas to control gun violence. One business, Gat Guns started a petition against the following amendments that were added to IL SB1966. These new proposed regulations are:
To criminalize private transfers, with violations being punished as a Class 4 felony. Require the recipient of a firearm gifted by a family member to call into Illinois State Police within 60 days to run a background check on themselves, even though they must already hold a FOID. Mandate FOID applicants submit fingerprints, including for renewals, which would not add anything of investigative value. Increase FOID processing time from one calendar month to thirty business days, which can span more than six weeks. Reduce the duration of the FOID from ten years to five while also increasing the application fee from $10 to $20, resulting in a significant increase in the cost to maintain a FOID for the same amount of time. Require FOID applicants pay all costs for fingerprinting and processing the background check, totaling around $150 on top of the application fee. Prohibit those with a revoked FOID from transferring firearms to someone in the same household, which would create confusion in determining the owner of the firearms and would take away the right to self-defense from individuals due to the alleged actions of someone else in their household. Require the owner of the seized firearms to petition the court to have them transferred to a third party (Gat Guns, 2018).
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Where does this leave Illinois right now? Illinois SB1966 passed the house and has went back to the senate for more debate. While 26 counties in the state have all passed “Gun sanctuary”. This came from the term “sanctuary cities” where local politicians and law enforcement give notice that will limit the efforts to help with federal immigration violations (Landis, 2019). Several county boards were approached but members asking for resolutions to stop politicians from infringing on their rights as gun owners.
Gun violence is everywhere. Firearms have been an ongoing issue to debate throughout the country for decades. Without limiting the amounts purchased in one transaction, the type of weapons owned and any specialized training a person may need, which could aid in the reduction of some violence and crimes in many areas. While many believe they should have the right to carry by the 2nd Amendment, while the much bigger problem stems from too many states having different standards for gun ownership, some have requirements while others have none. The biggest achievement would be getting all states to agree on a compromising solution for all parties involved to see that weapons don’t fall into the violent, mentally unstable, and dangerous hands.
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. (2000). Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers. Department of the Treasury Retrieved from http://everytown.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Following-the-Gun_Enforcing-Federal-Laws-Against-Firearms-Traffickers.pdf.
- Chuck, E., Johnson,A., & Siemaszko, C. (2018). 17 killed in mass shooting at high school in parkland, florida. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/police-respond-shooting-parkland-florida-high-school-n848101
- Gat Guns. (2019). Illinois house passes senate bill 1966. Retrieved from https://www.gatguns.com/2019/05/31/illinois-house-pass-senate-bill-1966/
- Giffords Law Center. (2018). Mental health reporting. Gun Laws Retrieved from https://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/background-checks/mental-health-reporting/
- Giffords Law Center. (2018). Universal background checks. Gun Laws Retrieved from https://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/background-checks/universal-background-checks/#federal
Hanna, J., Karimi, F., & Almasy, S. (2019). Shooter in deadly Illinois rampage was not supposed to own a gun, police say. CNN News. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/16/us/illinois-aurora-shooting/index.html
Illinois General Assembly. (2019). Bill status for sb1966. State of Illinois: ILGA.gov. Retrieved from http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1966&GA=101&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=119887&SessionID=108
Illinois State Police. (2019). FOID: am I eligible?. Firearms Service Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.ispfsb.com/Public/FOID.aspx
Landis, K. (2019). 26 Counties have passed ‘gun sanctuary’ resolutions. Are they constitutional? Belleville News Democrat. Retrieved from https://www.bnd.com/news/local/article213841369.html
Stanglin, D., Madhani, A., & Brown, D. (2019). Police: Gunman in shooting rampage had 6 prior arrests in aurora, illinois, including domestic battery charges. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/02/16/aurora-shooting-illinois-shootout-gary-martin-police-officers/2890406002/
Williams, P., Blankstein, A., Dienst, J., & Siemaszko, C. (2018). 10 killed in santa fe, texas, high school shooting; suspect in custody. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-high-school-lockdown-amid-reports-active-shooter-n875341
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