New Illinois proposal holds consenting parents criminally liable for gun violence caused by children with FOID cards

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 3:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - An Illinois House Republican has introduced a plan to hold parents or legal guardians criminally liable for gun violence caused by their children with FOID cards if they gave consent for a FOID application. Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) says everyone needs to take gun safety seriously.

The Firearm Owners Identification Card law says people must be 21 to apply for a FOID card, although anyone under 21 could also possess a FOID if they have written consent from their parents. Current state law holds parents civilly liable for damages from illegal use of firearms or ammunition if they gave consent for a minor to get a FOID card.

Batinick said it is mindboggling that someone sponsored a FOID card for the man responsible for the Highland Park shooting on the Fourth of July.

Illinois State Police have reported that there was no information to establish the alleged gunman was a clear and present danger to others when his father co-signed his FOID card application in December 2019. That was only months after local police were called to a house where the future shooter threatened to kill his family. Highland Park police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword before submitting a clear and present danger notice to state police.

Batinick said his plan can hold parents accountable and protect the Second Amendment while also protecting innocent lives.

“When something tragic happens, you want to do something big and bold,” Batinick said. “Obviously this is a minor step, but it is a step in the right direction. And I hope that we can start by doing something like this.”

He argues parents and guardians should think twice about sponsoring a FOID applicant if they are mentally unstable.

“If you’re going to buy guns for somebody that is under 21 or you’re going to sponsor their FOID card, then you’re going to take some responsibility for that individual’s actions,” Batinick said. “We can pass as many laws as we want, but if there aren’t people in the public that are being diligent about this situation or these types of situations, they’re not going to do any good.”

Batinick said it’s important that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle come together to work on solutions. He would prefer to see several strong proposals rather than a large omnibus plan that could cause some members to vote against gun control measures. Legislative leaders are still working with stakeholders to find the best solutions before lawmakers return for a special session in the coming months.

The Illinois State Police have submitted an emergency rule to broaden the use of clear and present danger reports to block applicants from receiving a FOID card or revoking their current FOID. This change would allow law enforcement to use historic clear and present danger information about someone even if they were not actively seeking or using a FOID card when a report is issued.

Current state law defines clear and present danger as physical or verbal behavior, such as violent, suicidal, or assaultive threats, actions, or other behavior. The Pritzker administration said Monday that the emergency rule change will clarify ISP’s authority to use and keep these reports to the fullest extent allowed under state and federal law.

“For the sake of public safety, any FOID applicant with prior clear and present danger information needs to have that considered when having their application processed,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “These changes will immediately allow ISP to see a fuller picture of an applicant’s history and keep the people of Illinois safe from those who should not be in possession of firearms.”

ISP Director Brendan Kelly said the modification will immediately give his department legal authority to consider more evidence when determining whether to issue or revoke FOID cards. Kelly explained this can also strengthen ISP’s ability to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Emergency rules take effect 10 days after an agency files the change, but the rule is only effective for 150 days. State Police plan to file the change as a permanent rule for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to review. JCAR members could discuss the change as early as August 17.

The Gun Violence Prevention PAC thanked the Pritzker administration for swift action to address the FOID loophole Monday. President and CEO Kathleen Sances said this emergency rule will keep dangerous individuals from getting their hands on a deadly weapon.

“This is but a first step in the response that Illinois lawmakers must take in the wake of the tragic Highland Park mass shooting,” Sances said. “The General Assembly must take immediate action to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in the upcoming special session. There is no more urgent task of state government than keeping the public safe.”

A proposal to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines has 56 Democratic cosponsors. Rep. Maura Hirschauer (D-Batavia) originally filed the bill on January 28. House Bill 5522 was rereferred to the House Rules Committee on February 18. Although, the plan is gaining momentum as 54 of the Democrats joined as co-sponsors following the Highland Park mass shooting.

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