The Illinois legislature has been very busy in the last few weeks, successfully passing into law bill which raises the minimum wage in Illinois, and they are working on other legislation to increase taxes, legalize recreational use of cannabis and many other issues. Regarding firearms, SB 107, sponsored by Senator Julie Morrison (D-29), would brand many modern semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and shotguns commonly owned by law-abiding citizens as “assault weapons” and ban them along with spare parts and accessories.
Some examples to be banned include:
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee but there has been no action taken since January 31.
Another much talked about proposal, this time from Representative Dan Didech, HB 888 amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. It provides that the Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the purchasers' social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card. Provides that each applicant for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card shall furnish to the Department of State Police a list of every social media account. This bill was advanced to the Firearms and Firearms Safety Sub-committee on February 19th.
These are just a few of the many new proposals in the 2019 Spring legislative session which attempt to curb our 2nd Amendment rights. Quite a few of them have been submitted several years in a row and always fail to gain traction for one reason or another. At the time of this update, early March, there is plenty of time for the legislature to get serious about some of these proposals before the session ends.
The annual Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day will be Wednesday March 27 at the Bank of Springfield (Convention Center). Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 11:45 a.m. The keynote speaker will be David Keene, former NRA President.
At the national level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, a bill which would mandate Universal Background checks prior to selling someone a firearm, even private transactions. Prior to passing out of the House, an amendment was successfully added which requires ICE to be notified if an illegal immigrant fails to pass the background check when attempting to purchase a firearm. Most are confident the Senate will not pass this bill at this time. It should be noted Illinois already has such legislation.
Last July, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2354, the so-called "red flag" bill that allows guns to be taken away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. He also signed Senate Bill 3256, which imposes a 72-hour waiting period to purchase all guns, not just handguns. The new law allows either an immediate family member or the police to go to court if they fear a person with access to guns is likely to do something violent. If the court determines the person poses a threat to himself or others, it can order the person's guns be temporarily removed by law enforcement.
Under the legislation, if the court orders a person to surrender their guns, it is for a six-month period. However, the police and family members can seek an extension if they think a person still poses a threat.
The law allows the guns to be turned over to a family member or friend, but that family member must sign an oath not to return them until after the order expires. This is intended to prevent another situation like Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking whose father took away guns he owned because of strange behavior, but then returned them.
The Red Flag Law allows family or police to petition the court for an ex parte order (Restraining order or an order that benefits only one side in a case) if the person:
“poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or another by having in his/her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm.”
This new law would allow family or police to take away a person’s right to own a firearm without their knowledge if they are deemed “too dangerous.”
The law would also allow police easy access to search warrants to search homes and seize weapons if the court has reason to believe the banned person has guns. Additional information regarding these two new statutes is posted on the ALGC website.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a rule change in December 2018 that classified bump stocks — devices used to accelerate rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles — as machine guns, which are illegal. Gun Owners of America (GOA) immediately issued a court challenge against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) over the administrative rule change which is pending.
On a positive note, on January 3rd, the first day of the 116th Congress, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC-03) introduced the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) of 2019. An enhanced version of previous HPA’s, this legislation includes several suppressor related technical amendments that were first incorporated into the SHARE Act of 2017. The primary focus of the bill is to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act (NFA), making it easier for law-abiding hunters and sportsmen to protect their hearing while at the range or in the field.
In addition, Senator John Cornyn, TX, has introduced Senate Bill 69 which would eliminate the confusing patchwork of state carry laws by allowing individuals who possess concealed carry licenses or who are not prohibited from carrying concealed in their home state to exercise those rights in any other state that provides a lawful means of concealed carry for its own residents.
This legislation would not override state laws governing the time, place or manner of carriage or establish national standards for concealed carry. Individual state gun laws would still be respected. If under federal law a person is prohibited from carrying a firearm, they would continue to be prohibited from doing so under this bill.
Democrats lead by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday January 9th, rolled out their most sweeping assault weapons ban proposal since 1994.
The planned Assault Weapon Ban of 2019 targets the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines,” as defined by the California Democrat and her co-sponsors, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
“This past year, we’ve seen Americans rise up and demand Congress change our gun laws. Banning assault weapons would save lives,” said Murphy, who in the past has spoken out against what he termed “the imaginary 2nd Amendment.”
Besides outlawing 205 gun models by name — Feinstein’s original 1994 ban only listed around 20 specific models — the proposal would also define an “assault weapon” as a semi-automatic with a detachable magazine that included one of a list of cosmetic features that are deemed “military characteristics” such as a threaded barrel, pistol grip or folding stock. This is less lenient than the previous ban which allowed a “features test” that included two such characteristics.
In addition, the measure would expand federal law to ban adjustable stocks, Thordsen-style stocks such as used in “featureless rifles” marketed in states like California, “assault pistols” that weight more than 50-ounces when unloaded, and popular pistol stabilizing braces that have become widespread in recent years. Detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds would be prohibited from transfer and guns grandfathered when the ban takes effect would be required to be locked up when not in use. A background check would be mandatory for future sale or gifting of grandfathered guns, even between two private parties.
Joining Feinstein in her effort to “get these weapons of war off our streets,” are at least 25 other Democrats in the Senate, including our own Senator Tammy Duckworth who have promised to sign on to the legislation. However, with Republicans in charge of the chamber, it is unlikely the measure will make it out of committee without bipartisan support.
The Spring legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly began Wednesday January 9th. With the Illinois House, Senate, Executive Officers and the Governor’s Office all under the control of one the party which historically has championed legislation curbing Illinois residents 2nd Amendment rights, we are in for a bumpy ride. While the General Assembly has numerous issues needing to be addressed such as crushing debt, property tax relief, legislation to allow recreational use of cannabis and gambling expansion, no doubt they will also soon be introducing new gun control legislation.
UPDATE: Newly inaugurated governor J.B. Pritzker signed hold-over legislation from the last session; SB337 will impose massive bureaucratic regulations on Illinois FFLs.
"Soon, the first of the 10-year FOID cards will start renewing and this is likely to swamp the Illinois State Police (ISP). With that in mind, on August 17th, Governor Rauner signed HB 4855 into law. HB 4855 allows gun owners a 60-day grace period to keep their FOID card active while their renewal application is being processed, even if the processing period extends beyond the FOID card’s expiration date. Your renewal should not be submitted more than 60 days before your expiration date. This new law also clarifies the definition of a patient so hospitals have a better idea of how to report the status of a patient to the ISP. For years, the ISRA has had to deal with cases in which people who were admitted to a hospital were put into an empty mental ward because the ward they should have been admitted to was filled. These were usually people who should have been placed in either a medical ward or maternity ward. Because they were in a mental facility, they lost their FOID card. It takes years to straighten these cases out. Meanwhile, the person is denied their rights. Hospitals were not helpful."
Richard Pearson is the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. The ISRA and Director Pearson fight for our rights every day. Read his comments on the rationale behind these two bills and how they might affect your Second Amendment rights in Illinois.
July 16, 2018, Governor Rauner signed into law HB2354, which provides a mechanism for law enforcement, family, dating partners and roommates of Illinois gun owners to notify law enforcement if they believe a gun owner is a danger to themselves or others. HB2354 allows law enforcement to temporarily remove the firearms from the accused person. The legislation is based upon similar bills passed in Connecticut and Indiana that have reportedly reduced firearms related suicides in those states. The legislaton does provide for the ability to challenge the order. Time will tell if the fears of abuse are founded.
Governor Rauner also signed SB3256 into law. This is the bill that changes the purchase waiting period for long guns from 24 hours to 72 hours. That now makes the purchase waiting period for all firearms in Illinois three days.
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