Illinois red flag gun laws: How the Highland Park parade shooter slipped through the cracks

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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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So many questions are being raised about Illinois' red flag laws following the deadly Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting.

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- So many questions are being raised about Illinois' red flag laws following the deadly Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting.

Are there possible cracks that the suspect may have fallen through when it comes to the law?

Police have said the assault-style rifle suspect Bobby Crimo III allegedly used in the Highland Park mass shooting was legally purchased, as were the other four guns Crimo owned. That despite the state's red flag laws, which some say could have been used to deny him a FOID card or to potentially take the weapons away.

RELATED: New details revealed after accused Highland Park shooter confesses: prosecutor

"Illinois has legislation in place, however, it's woefully lacking and needs to have teeth to end mass shootings," said Lori Ann Post, who has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

Post has studied mass shootings over the years and said the Highland Park shooting follows a familiar pattern, despite the state's red flag laws.

Most shooters put out plenty of warning signs.

In Crimo's case, he attempted suicide in April of 2019. Then, five months later police responded when he threatened to kill people in his home, leading them to temporarily confiscate 16 knives and other weapons. He also put out allegedly threatening social media messages.

HERE: Redacted Highland Park Police Report From September 2019 Released

"The firearms restraining order is useful in all these situations. Someone making threats, experiencing trauma and should not possess firearms," said Rep. Denyse Wang Stoneback, 16th District.

Stoneback fought for funding to educate people about the red flag law. Since the law took effect in 2019, more than half of the red flag alerts statewide have been in DuPage County.

EXPLAINED: Illinois' Clear and Present Danger Law vs. Firearms Restraining Order Law

"I have no doubt the law has saved lives in DuPage County," said DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin.

RELATED: Highland Park parade shooting suspect Robert Crimo III charged with 7 counts of murder

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) toured the UCAN facility on the West Side of the city, which is designed to prevent violence. He said the red flag laws work but ultimately it comes down to those closest to a potential gunman.

"Parents have a responsibility when it comes to firearms, particularly assault weapons for God's sake," Durbin said. "There's gotta be culpability in this situation."

A lawyer for Bobby Crimo's parents admits his father signed a consent form allowing his son to get a FOID card and that he had nothing to do with alerting authorities about concerns through the red flag law.

RELATED: Attorney representing accused Highland Park shooter's parents says family is 'distraught'

Illinois State Police said, "There's probably going to be a civil litigation there's probably going to be, (....) there is ongoing criminal prosecution, criminal investigation. Issues of culpability, liability, who may have responsibility in certain circumstances are all part and parcel of that process so making a conclusionary statement and Illinois State Police weighing in on that is not appropriate for us - that process has to weigh out. The court process. That determination and the answer to that question is something that will have to be decided in court."

Crimo's father also claimed the weapons in the house belonged to him following the 2019 incident, so not all the weapons were taken from the house, ISP said.

Director Brendan Kelly of the Illinois State Police faced hard questions Wednesday about why his agency did not or could not prevent Crimo from getting his FOID card.

ISP explains how accused Highland Park shooter was approved for FOID card

He saidthat based on the information law enforcement had at the time, there was nothing that could have been done to deny Crimo's FOID card to legally buy his guns.

When asked his reaction to the fact the Crimo's father helped his son get the permit, Kelly responded, "I can't speak to what was going through the mind of this particular person when they made that decision, when they decided to sponsor this person. I can only speak from perspective as a citizen and as a father that we all have a duty we all have an obligation...we all have to be mindful of, of, of the safety of others. And sometimes that requires some difficult things as a parent. Now, again, it'll be up to the courts, and it'll be up to this process to decide what was appropriate and what was not in this circumstance."

The family's attorney said his clients are cooperating fully with the investigation, are answering questions, and have provided authorities access to electronics and more.