After a weekend of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as well as nearly 60 people shot in Chicago – seven of them fatally – gun control proponents are once again calling for action.
Illinois is one of many states that recently enacted a so-called red flag law, which enables family or friends of a gun owner to alert police if they see warning signs. As of Jan. 1, 2019, Illinois residents are able to file a “firearms restraining order” allowing judges to remove guns from someone they view as a danger to themselves or others.
West suburban Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Willis sponsored Illinois’ red flag gun law. She’s also the sponsor of Senate Bill 1966, which would strengthen the gun licensing system. Known as the “Fix the FOID Act,” it proposes several changes to Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, which the state requires for legal gun ownership.
Among the main changes in SB 1966:
• Fingerprinting would be required as part of the FOID application
• A FOID card will only be valid for five years instead of 10
• The cost of a FOID card would increase from $10 for 10 years to $20 for five years
“If SB 1966 passes and we get fingerprinting, that will eliminate 2,000-3,000 people annually who shouldn’t even get a FOID card,” said Willis. “And the increased fees will give Illinois State Police more resources to enforce the FOID card system and update their database with names of those whose FOID card has been revoked.”
But Dickson Amoah, Illinois director of the National African American Gun Association, sees problems with the proposed bill.
“I view this essentially like the poll tax that kept African Americans from voting in the late 1800s and 1900s,” Amoah said. “Poorer communities and minorities will be disproportionately impacted by higher FOID fees and regulations like fingerprinting. African Americans are sometimes uncomfortable registering themselves with authority. They might be reluctant to be fingerprinted. I’m trying to educate African Americans about gun laws and what their rights are, but these added fees and regulations may discourage them from legal gun ownership.”
Contact Andrea Guthmann: @AndreaGuthmann