The Illinois House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make fingerprint checks mandatory for anyone hoping to purchase a firearm. As it stands, residents currently need to apply for (and obtain) a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card in order to buy and own a gun in Illinois.
The new bill would force residents to submit their fingerprints as part of the FOID application process, while those who already have a card would need to provide their prints when they get their card renewed. Other provisions would create an electronic version of the FOID card, and require background checks for all private and person-to-person gun sales. The police would also be asked to seize the guns of anyone that has their card revoked for whatever reason.
The fingerprint requirement would speed up the background checks, since the police would be able to cross-reference FOID submissions with prints already in state databases. A background check is already required for those applying for a concealed carry license, and while a fingerprint is not required, many people voluntarily submit their prints to expedite their application. The new bill would allow residents to apply for a FOID and a concealed carry permit at the same time to further streamline both processes.
Illinois has a massive backlog of FOID applications, with tens of thousands of applications pending. The state has roughly 2.2 million applicants in total.
Advocates for the bill argue that the law will make it more difficult for dangerous people (and particularly those with criminal records) to purchase deadly weapons. However, the bill has received considerable pushback, and Representative Frances Hurley has already filed a motion to prevent the bill from going to the Senate. The bill passed with only 60 votes (and 50 against), which is the absolute minimum number needed to clear the House. Opponents have also warned that gun rights advocates will challenge the bill in court.
Illinois lawmakers passed an earlier version of the gun control bill in 2019, and it is expected to go through even more revisions if and when it gets taken up in the State Senate. The state already collects the fingerprints of concealed carry instructors, and is one of only four that require a permit for firearm owners.
June 3, 2021 – by Eric Weiss