Gov. Pritzker signs law expanding gun sale background checks, mental health funding in Illinois

ByCraig Wall and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, August 2, 2021
Illinois gun reform law tightens restrictions, closes loopholes
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill Monday expanding background checks on all gun sales and provides mental health funding.

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois is moving to close some loopholes and tighten restrictions on gun sales to keep them out of the hands of people who should not have them.

A new law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker Monday was prompted by a 2019 mass shooting in Aurora.

Now, survivors are hoping the new law might prevent another tragedy.

WATCH: Pritzker discusses law that helps address gun violence in Illinois

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill Monday expanding background checks on all gun sales and provides mental health funding.

Abby Parks still feels the pain over the senseless shooting at the Henry Pratt Company that took her husband Clay and left their son Axel without a father.

"He doesn't know enough yet to know why he's missing his dad or how," Parks said.

The gunman responsible had a revoked firearm owner's identification card (FOID), but still kept his guns and killed five people that day.

Parks joined lawmakers and gun-safety advocates Monday as Governor Pritzker signed HB 562 into law, providing Illinois State Police more funding to take guns from those with expired FOID cards.

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"It'll save lives, it'll change lives. And if this can help remove guns from people who shouldn't have them, then it's something I fully support and I think it can make a difference," Parks said.

The new law also requires background checks on all gun sales, including private sales.

"This is one of those measures. Is it a panacea? Is it a fix all? No, but every little thing that we can do -- every little loophole we can close, every inch that we can gain in public safety -- it all adds up to be able to reduce the chances that someone's going to be killed by a firearm," said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly.

The law also expedites the FOID card applications and renewals for those who voluntarily submit their fingerprints.

"This bill is the most comprehensive reform to our state firearms laws in over a generation," the governor said.

The law is the latest effort to address gun violence as a public health crisis, which builds on a $128 million investment in violence protection programs. The landmark legislation expands background checks on all gun sales in Illinois and provides mental health funding for communities most impacted by gun violence. Part of those funds will come from conceal and carry license fees, Pritzer said.

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It will also modernize the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card system, which hasn't been updated since its creation over 50 years ago, according to officials. It will also create a statewide stolen gun database.

"We are also taking steps to make sure responsible gun owners aren't held back an antiquated licensing system which hasn't seen significant updates since its founding," Pritzker said.

As part of the modernization, the state is also establishing a bipartisan appeals board for those who feel they were wrongly denied a license.

Retiring Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said she is hopeful that this new law will help get illegal guns off the streets, and hopefully prevent another tragedy.

"We cannot bring back the precious souls of the lives that were stolen, but we have channeled that pain into action," she said.

Critics have raised concerns about infringing on people's 2nd Amendment rights, but the bill was crafted with bi-partisan support.

"It's not an attack against anybody, but it has the potential to make our communities safer," Parks said.

Supporters said even if the progress is small, every little bit helps.

HB 562 will take effect on January 1, 2022, with the exception of the universal background check which will take effect January 1, 2024.