Bill Addresses Mental Illness and Gun Laws

Naperville criminal defense attorneys, mental illness and gun lawsSeveral bills have been introduced in the General Assembly this session addressing gun violence in Illinois. According to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, 80 percent of those considering suicide and over 50 percent of mass shooters in the past twenty years have showed signs of mental illness. The bills are designed to keep firearms out of hands of those with mental illness or who pose a danger to themselves or others. 

Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards

To purchase a gun in Illinois, a person must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (FOID card). House Bill 3160 would revoke the right to hold a FOID card if a family member petitions the court, requesting an emergency lethal violence order of protection.

Family members, who include both relatives and those who live with a person, may petition the circuit court and demonstrate that the person poses an immediate danger to him or herself or to others by possessing a firearm. The court may then suspend the right to a FOID card for up to one year. The subject must then surrender any firearms currently in his or her possession, along with any FOID card or concealed carry license.

The subject can petition to have the suspension lifted. Currently, if an Illinois resident’s FOID card has been revoked, he or she may recover the card by reapplying within five years with a doctor’s testimony that he or she is competent to own a gun.

Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, introduced the bill in response to suicides and mass shootings. The bill is not without opposition, however. Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson has argued that the bill overreaches by allowing anyone living with a person to complain, making it easy to take advantage of the law. Willis, however, notes that a perjury clause would prevent people from falsely accusing others. 

Reporting Records 

Another measure, Senate Bill 2213, would require better reporting in cases where a person has been adjudicated as mentally disabled. It would require circuit courts to make twice-yearly reports to the Illinois State Police giving the total number of people that have been deemed mentally disabled. The state police could then, under existing law, revoke their Firearm Owner’s Identification cards. Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, the bill’s sponsor, introduced it to increase communication between courts and law enforcement.

Orders of Protection 

Finally, House Bill 6331 would deny a person’s application for, or revoke and seize, a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card if the person is the subject of:

  • An order of protection; or
  • A stalking no contact order prohibiting the possession of firearms.

Temporary orders of protection last up to two years, and can be renewed. Permanent orders are also available in some cases. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, the bill’s sponsor, has stated that the bill’s purpose is to help prevent stalkers and other dangerous individuals from owning firearms. 

If you have questions about how these new bills could affect your situation, please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.