Pritzker signs FOID update while others call for law to be scrapped

(The Center Square) – A new state law brings about a variety of changes to Illinois’ Firearm Owner’s Identification card law, including making fingerprints optional, requiring background checks for private transfers, and combining the FOID with the Concealed Carry License.

In Aurora, the scene of a mass shooting in 2019 where someone with a revoked FOID card shot and killed several people at a workplace, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 562.

After signing the measure Monday, Pritzker said the new law is a small step forward for more gun safety.

“I wouldn’t look at this as the end of a process, but nonetheless a beginning of a process to make sure that we are keeping illegal guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” Pritzker said.

Gun control advocates praised the signing of the bill, though before the measure passed they pushed for more stringent requirements for FOID applicants, like mandating fingerprints.

“Today our coalition delivered, organizing to ensure Governor Pritzker and legislators from both parties could take a major step forward in reducing the gun violence that plagues Illinois every day, in particular our Black and Brown communities,” said a statement from Kathleen Sances, President of Gun Violence Prevention PAC Illinois.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, one of 40 lawmakers in the House that voted against the bill, said it’s not going to stop criminals getting guns but will further burden legal gun owners from exercising the Second Amendment rights.

“We’re on an island here in the state of Illinois in the midwest where you literally have got to have a Firearms Owner’s Identification Card in order to practice your Second Amendment Rights which is guaranteed under the [U.S.] Constitution,” Niemerg said.

The measure streamlines the FOID process in a variety of ways, including making fingerprints optional and combining the FOID with the Concealed Carry License where it applies.

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said it also requires background checks for private transfers.

“They’ll be able to either do it online or they’ll be able to do it at a [Federal Firearms Licensee], we’ve given them that option,” Kelly said. “That was part of the compromise that was worked out in this bill that makes common sense for lawful gun owners.”

Niemerg said that will further burden legal gun owners to keep records for the state. He also raised alarm with what he said will be a partisan board to review FOID application challenges and doubts the new law will clear the backlogged FOID applications, where tens of thousands are months delayed.

“Ultimately what I would like to see is the FOID card be deemed unconstitutional and be removed again as a hindrance to us practicing our Second Amendment rights in the state of Illinois,” Niemerg said.

Kelly said more resources are being put toward working down the continued backlog, but the state also faces lawsuits over the FOID system in state and federal courts.

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