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ISRA Executive Directors Message
With the national focus on mental health as it relates to mass shootings we have seen many states begin the discussion of how to prevent these tragedies. Many of the discussions have revolved around what has been commonly called “Red Flag Laws”. The premise behind these laws is how to empower direct family members to be a line of defense when there is a sudden onset of mental health issues that result in a person, who has access to firearms, presenting a danger to themselves and others. Here in Illinois this very discussion has been embodied in HB2354 that passed both chambers of the General Assembly with constitutional majorities and signed into law this week.
In Illinois our statutes already deny a FOID card, thereby denying possession of a firearm, to people that have mental health issues or pose a ‘Clear and Present Danger’ to themselves or others. HB2354 covers the gap where there is a sudden onset of mental health issues and a person may have suicidal thoughts or expressed a desire to hurt others.
The fear of these Red Flag laws is that anti-gunners will maliciously use these laws to harass law abiding gun owners. In Illinois, the Illinois State Rifle Association worked tirelessly with our friends Rep. Breen and Rep. Reick in the General Assembly to ensure due process for respondents that may be the subject of a Firearm Restraining Order. If a family member would fraudulently petition the court for a Firearm Restraining Order against another family member they could be prosecuted for perjury. Furthermore, if the court denied the Firearm Restraining Order petition, all the records of the proceedings shall be immediately expunged from the court records. In addition, if the Firearm Restraining Order is granted, all records of the proceedings shall, 3 years after the expiration of the order, be sealed.
The Illinois State Rifle Association, in an abundance of caution, contacted organizations in other states that have Red Flag laws. In Washington State this process was used 51 times and our friends in that state have indicated they believe all these orders were justified and not done maliciously. In Indiana and Connecticut, a recent study of their Red Flag laws indicated these laws were associated with a reduction of suicides of 7.5% and 13.7% respectively.
While no law is perfect, many believe the law enacted in Illinois has the most protections in the Country for law abiding citizens. We will continue to monitor this legislation and offer ideas for tightening the language in a trailer bill when the General Assembly is back in session.
The second bill the Governor signed was the 72-hour waiting period for long guns, SB3256. The original bill had different waiting periods for different types of long guns. It was confusing to say the least. Not only would it have been confusing for dealers, it would have been confusing for individual firearm owners also. Remember the rules for selling a firearm apply to everyone; this includes individual transfers. If a private person were to sell his gun to a friend and not understand the far from clear definition in the law, they could be in trouble. It was better to make the waiting period the same for everything so this law couldn’t become a gotcha law. This bill also passed with a veto proof majority. It does not take effect until January 1, 2019.
The last bill everyone one is asking about is SB337, the Gun Dealer Licensing Bill. This bill cannot go to the Governor’s desk because it has a Motion to Reconsider filed on the bill. That motion must be lifted before any action can be taken. The only reason for that motion is to make it tough on the Governor. This is an awful bill and the Governor has promised to veto it.
Finally, in the Good News Department, the Illinois State Rifle Association High Power Rifle teams have been beyond outstanding at the NRA National Championships. I cannot list all the team and individual accomplishments of the team. That will have to go in the Illinois Shooter because there is not enough room here. The ISRA had more teams in the National High Power Championships than any other state. The ISRA Gold Team has won the Service Rifle Division of the NRA Service Rifle Championships and set a new team high score while doing it. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt founded State Associations in order to maintain marksmanship skills for the nation. Well, Mr. President, the ISRA has, is, and will continue to do so. We are holding up our end of the bargain.
Thanks for being a member.
Richard Pearson - Executive Director ISRA