Major overhaul of Illinois gun card program would require fingerprinting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New legislation introduced late Wednesday afternoon in Springfield would, for the first time, require gun owners to be fingerprinted.

Under the proposal, a Firearm Owners Identification Card would surge in price from $10 to $50 and the duration of the card would be cut in half from ten years to five years.

Northlake Democrat Kathleen Willis is sponsor of the bill and told the ABC7 I-Team that it was filed just before 5pm. Rep. Willis says the money generated by increased FOID fees would completely fund increased enforcement by Illinois State Police and fund grants for a new mental health program in schools.

READ: "Fix the FOID Act"

FOID cards are required for the legal purchase of firearms and ammunition in Illinois.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC7 I-Team, acting state police director Brendan Kelly said that the five-fold increase in FOID fees would fund stepped-up law enforcement efforts to enforce Illinois gun laws.

During the I-Team interview Kelly discussed Illinois' largely misguided and unsuccessful efforts at revoking FOID cards and tracking down the guns of people not entitled to them.

The $40 spike in cost for a FOID card would be the first increase in more than a decade. Gun cards cost $5 from the time the program began in 1968 until 2008 when the fee was doubled.

There are nearly 2.3 million FOID card holders in Illinois. Attention has been focused on the state's FOID program after each mass shooting.

The FOID legislation introduced late Wednesday week is known as "the Aurora package" after the state's most recent workplace attack in southwest suburban Aurora that left five factory employees dead and five police officers wounded and raised questions about FOID enforcement. The shooter in that case, an employee who had just been fired, had a revoked FOID card-but as the I-Team reported in February authorities had not retrieved his card or his weapons.

In the wake of the Aurora shooting tragedy, Illinois State Police revealed that there were 10,818 FOID revocations sent out in 2018. Police were unable to account for the majority of the guns.

Kelly, acting state police director, pledged in Wednesday's I-Team interview to improve enforcement of Illinois FOID laws beginning with better communication of gun owner's information to local law enforcement.

The FOID initiative is one component of an aggressive and wide-ranging set of initiatives Kelly has outlined. He told the I-Team that all of his plans depend on "manpower, manpower, manpower." In the government world that also translates into money, money, money and Kelly is looking for significant increases in both-beginning with two additional classes of recruits which would yield a total of 200 new state troopers.
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