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More than 80,000 Illinois residents banned from owning guns still keep them, report says

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In Illinois, 114,000 people are barred from owning guns due to legal or mental health issues – three-quarters of them have not surrendered their firearms, according to data that the Cook County Sheriff will present Thursday.

Sheriff Tom Dart is seeking $10 million from state lawmakers to address what he calls the report a “gun regulation crisis.” The money would train and equip more door-to-door officers to recover or ensure safe storage of guns from those who have had their firearms owner identification cards revoked.

The goal would be to reduce the risk of potentially unstable people displaying the type of violence seen when a shooter who was not licensed to possess a gun carried out a massacre at Henry Pratt Co. in a Chicago suburb .

Otherwise, the threat of revoking non-compliant gun owners’ FOID cards will escape law enforcement control, the Democratic sheriff told The Associated Press in releasing the report in advance. Dart has scheduled a news conference Thursday morning to release its findings.

“I wish I had invented that. I wish someone would take down my argument and say, “You’re exaggerating. You’re being dramatic,'” Dart told the AP in an interview Wednesday. “No. Do the math. At this rate, in two years we will have 100,000 revoked FOID card owners, and there will be no contact with them to make sure their guns were properly processed.

Legislation pending in Springfield would increase fees on gun purchases to strengthen law enforcement, but there are only two weeks left before the spring legislative session.

There are 2.42 million FOID cardholders in Illinois. They are waived when a gun owner is convicted of a crime, is subject to a protection order, suffers from other mental health or cognitive problems, or is deemed a “clear danger and present” for himself or for others by the police, the school. administrators or health professionals. Notified firearm owners are required to surrender their firearms for storage or transfer them to a trusted person with a FOID card, an action certified by the completion of a firearms disposition record.

Too many people don’t do it. Historically, the approach was for local law enforcement to repeatedly send letters informing the recipient of the requirement to do so.

Dart’s report found that of nearly 114,000 holders of repealed FOID cards, 74 percent — about 84,000 — never reported surrendering their guns.

The problem reached a bloody and devastating point in February 2019 when a man fired from his job at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora took out and fired a gun he was not allowed to have, killing five employees and injuring half a dozen. others. The shooter purchased the gun in 2014 after a background check failed to identify a 1995 conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi. When authorities learned of it, they revoked the man’s FOID, but he never returned the gun.

That same year, a DuPage County man whose FOID had been revoked for an aggravated battery charge but who had not surrendered any weapons shot and killed his 18-month-old son, then himself, the Dart report notes .

Dart’s efforts in the region predate the Aurora incident. He formed a unit in 2013 consisting of eight officers trained to deal with tense environments, including those involving mental illness. His team says the office has closed 9,200 cases, collected 4,000 FOID cards, stored 1,517 weapons and enabled the safe transfer of several thousand more weapons.

“It’s not like trying to draw some sort of conclusion and read the mind of who is about to commit an offense,” Dart said. “We literally have the name and address of someone who owns a gun and shouldn’t have it.”

Legislation signed in 2021 created a program to fund revocation enforcement teams. The Illinois State Police gave local police departments — including Dart’s and the Chicago City Police — about $1 million a year.

Illinois State Police began tracking revocation enforcement in May 2019 and, through 2022, reported bringing 4,300 people into compliance with the law.

Despite recent efforts, the backlog has not changed since state police reported it in the days after the Aurora disaster.

Dart has a sympathetic ear in the capital, and is particularly sensitive to the subject. Rep. Bob Morgan, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, was walking with constituents in the July 4, 2022, parade in Highland Park when a gunman opened fire, killing seven people and injuring at least 30 others .

Morgan’s proposal would increase the $2 fee on gun purchases or transfers to $10, with $4 going to the Illinois State Police Revocation Enforcement Fund. Morgan said the legislation has not yet been reviewed by the House gun task force.

Despite the sharp increase in transfer fees, Morgan said many states charge more than Illinois, from $15 in New Jersey to $25 in Nevada.

“We only have tens of thousands of these guns floating around out there, coming from people who had their FOID cards legally taken away and ultimately revoked,” Morgan said. “We have to do better.”

ABC News

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