Buying guns in Illinois: 'Orlando Massacre' reignites debate over gun control

How easy is it to buy a gun in Illinois?
(Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)

MARION, IL (KFVS) - The shooting rampage at an Orlando, Florida night club has reignited the debate over gun control.

Since then, journalists across the country have been testing what it takes to buy a firearm in their respective states.

It took one columnist just seven minutes to legally buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Helen Ubiñas with The Inquirer Daily News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wrote about it in her recent column.

However, that is not the case in the Land of Lincoln.

Illinois is known for having some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and it could a take a resident months before legally being allowed to buy a firearm there.

"Do you have a FOID card, a firearm identification card?"

Co-owner of Pro Gun and Indoor Range in Marion, Ill., Paul Smith, said that's the first question he asks anyone intending on buying a gun from him.

You'll get as far as the counter before being turned away from buying a firearm unless you have an Illinois State Police issued Firearm Owner Identification card.

Illinois is one of only a handful of states that require residents to have a FOID card before being allowed to legally buy a firearm or ammunition. Illinois residents can apply for a FOID card if they have a valid state ID, submit a $10 application fee and a submit recent electronic photo.

ISP has 30 days to approve or deny a FOID card. However, firearm dealers have reported it taking customers as long as three months to actually receive their FOID cards.

Once the FOID card is in hand, a buyer must wait 24 hours to buy a rifle and 72 hours for a handgun. It takes additional paperwork to buy more than two guns at a time.

The Orlando shooter's use of an AR-15-style firearm, that can shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger, has lawmakers, firearm owners and gun control advocates bringing the semi-automatic rifle to the center of the debate.

Kianna Young, of Carterville, Ill., said the public should not have access to those types of firearms.

"I think if we had stricter gun control it probably would have been more difficult for something like this to have occurred," Young said.

Southern Illinois native and firearm owner, Michael Kochan, now a resident of Destin, Fla. couldn't believe what happened in Orlando on Sunday.

"Just heart wrenching and kind of like disbelief really," Kochan said. "It's like, 'Wow, really?' You know, again. It's very sad."

Kochan agreed with stricter regulations on rifles, like background checks.

"I'm all about people owning guns and things like that. but as far as AR's go, I would like to see stricter control," Kochan said.

However, Smith said there are other weapons that are just as dangerous.

"You can do just as much damage with a shotgun, with pellets, you can do just as much damage with a bomb," Smith said. "If people want to kill, they're going to kill."

Some say Illinois should adopt tighter gun regulations than already in place, others say Illinois is too strict. Thus the debate in Illinois and across the country continues.

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