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Broad gun control bill incl. ‘red flag’ confiscation, universal background checks sent to Illinois Gov. Pritzker

The Illinois State Capitol building on May 20, 2020, in Springfield. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Illinois House on Wednesday approved a comprehensive gun safety measure aimed at modernizing Illinois’ 53-year-old Firearms Owner Identification card law while also requiring background checks on private sales of firearms.

The bill passed by a 75-40 vote and now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The action comes almost two weeks after the state Senate gave its backing on a 40-17 vote, and follows constituent complaints about delays in getting a FOID card or having it renewed amid an flood of applications to Illinois State Police, which has been swamped trying to process the numerous requests.

The bill provides additional money the State Police for dealing with FOID and concealed carry applications, and seeks to boost efforts by law enforcement to take away firearms from people who have had their FOID cards revoked, including from those who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or the public.

Gun control issues have always been contentious, reflecting divergent views on firearms between the heavily populated Chicago area, where crime is high, and downstate rural areas where guns are embraced for sport, hunting and protection. In the past, those culture differences crossed party lines, but in recent years downstate has become more heavily Republican and more united in backing gun rights.

Lawmakers were spurred to act, in part, by the mass shooting at an Aurora warehouse two years ago, where a convicted felon with a revoked FOID card shot and killed five co-workers and wounded six, including five police officers.

The proposal requires the State Police to monitor state and federal crime databases to compare them with FOID and concealed carry license holders to initiate revocation proceedings. The State Police also would be required to establish a database of all firearms reported stolen so they can be compared to gun transfer records.

The Illinois State Police, under Pritzker, a Democrat, supported the legislation and took part in negotiations on the bill.

The legislation also seeks to incentivize FOID card applicants to voluntarily provide fingerprints to the State Police by having their card automatically renewed every time a background check is conducted when they buy a firearm. A House version of the bill that was never considered by the Senate would have made fingerprinting mandatory.

The measure also seeks to crack down on what gun-safety advocates say is a loophole involving the private sale of guns. It would require those transactions to be subject to a background check through a federally licensed firearms dealer or through an online process with the State Police.

The legislation would allow people who have both a FOID and concealed carry license to have it combined into one card and allows the State Police to create digital FOID and concealed carry cards.

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