New Illinois Law Would Require Fingerprint Check for Gun Ownership

New Illinois Law Would Require Fingerprint Check for Gun Ownership

The Illinois House of Representatives has passed legislation that would require a fingerprint check for anyone looking to obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card or a concealed carry license in the state. The fingerprints would be matched against Illinois police and FBI databases, offering better background checks and making it more difficult for people to submit false information when purchasing a weapon.

The bill was opposed by various gun advocates, who argued that fingerprinting would be an onerous burden for gun owners. However, Illinois lawmakers were quick to point out that a fingerprint check is now a relatively common security procedure.

“This chamber required fingerprinting for people that work with children to make sure we have correct background checks,” said Kathleen Willis, a Democratic Representative from Addison. “Well, another way we can protect our children is making sure that the wrong people do not own firearms.”

In addition to fingerprinting, the bill would up the application fee for a FOID card from $10 to $20 while reducing the renewal period from 10 to 5 years. Applicants would also have to pay for fingerprinting, with a processing cap set at $30.

The bill was pushed after a disgruntled employee killed five co-workers during a shooting at a warehouse in Aurora, Illinois earlier this year. The employee had had his FOID card revoked thanks to a 1995 domestic violence conviction in Mississippi, but there was no follow up to make sure that he handed over the guns already in his possession. A more thorough background check would have uncovered the felony when the shooter first applied for his card, when he lied about his criminal record.

All told, more than 34,000 FOID cards have been revoked in the past four years, and the guns belonging to those owners are unaccounted for in the vast majority (over 80 percent) of cases. The new fees would be sent to the police to help them implement the new legislation.

The bill still needs to pass the Illinois Senate before heading to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. The state has been at the forefront of the gun control debate, previously passing legislation that requires fingerprint checks for firearms instructors.

Companies like Identilock and Clipfort have explored biometric authentication for firearms, although such tech would likely not have prevented the Aurora incident. Though it was purchased under false pretenses, the shooter used his own gun during the massacre.  

Sources: The Chicago Tribune and NPR Illinois

June 3, 2019 – by Eric Weiss