In a press conference today, Governor Pritzker issued an order that will require residents to “stay at home,” and only leave their homes for essential services like groceries and pharmacies. Remarkably, in Illinois gun stores are considered an essential service and will remain open.
As most Illinois residents stock their pantries, others are stocking up on firearms. Local outlets are reporting that gun sales across Illinois are soaring as a reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.
To keep Illinois residents safe, it is more important than ever that these gun sales have strong background checks. Under current law, an unlicensed seller must only verify that a prospective buyer has a valid FOID Card, but there is no requirement that a background check be conducted at the time of the sale.
The Illinois legislature is currently considering a shortened session with a small package of prioritized bills. In this critical hour, I encourage Governor Pritzker, and the IL Senate to prioritize the safety of our communities by supporting and calling for a vote on SB966, the BIO (Block Illegal Gun Ownership) Bill, which will fix the FOID card system and help put a stop to preventable gun violence tragedies in Illinois. This important Bill passed the House last year and I urge the Senate to support its passage.
BACKGROUND: THE BIO (BLOCK ILLEGAL GUN OWNERSHIP) BILL
The BIO Bill, SB 1966, strengthens the FOID system to ensure that people with violent criminal histories, who are prohibited from gun possession, are not able to evade the law and arm themselves. The BIO Bill would make the following key provisions to the current FOID system:
- Reduce the FOID Card duration from 10 years to 5 years. Illinois is 1 of only 2 states where a license to purchase firearms is valid for 10 years. Shortening the length of time that a person can hold a firearm license has been associated with lower levels of gun violence, when coupled with other measures like fingerprinting.
- Require a point-of-sale background check for all gun sales, including those by an unlicensed seller. Under current law, an unlicensed seller must only verify that a person looking to buy a gun has a valid FOID card. There is no requirement that a background check be conducted at the time of the sale. This bill would require that unlicensed sales be facilitated by a licensed gun dealer and include a background check.
- Require applicants for FOID Cards to submit fingerprints as part of their application. This requirement will help ensure access to the applicant’s accurate criminal history.
ILLINOIS GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION PAC (G-PAC)
The Illinois Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) is a non-partisan political action committee that was founded to counter the political influence of the gun industry and their lobby in Springfield, Illinois. G-PAC raises the resources necessary to protect and elect public officials who step up to fight the gun violence epidemic, and work against those who don’t support keeping our communities safe.