A new Illinois law requires private sellers of guns to verify that the buyers' gun permits are valid, and it requires that gun owners notify police if they lose a gun or have one stolen.
The Gun Safety and Responsibility Act, in effect on New Year's Day, requires that all private firearm transactions in Illinois must be approved by State Police. Any non-federally licensed firearm dealer who sells or transfers a gun is required to contact ISP and provide the buyer's Firearm Owner's Identification Card number. The State Police will then determine the validity of the FOID card and issue a sale-approval number, which is valid for 30 days.
The seller is allowed to transfer the gun to the buyer after obtaining the approval number and waiting 24 hours for a rifle or shotgun or 72 hours for a handgun.
A sale-approval number can be requested around-the-clock through a page on the ISP website, at http://www.isp.state.il.us/foid/foidp2p.cfm, or during normal business hours by calling 217-524-3847.
Sellers already were required in Illinois to keep records of private gun sales and to check if buyers had FOID cards. But if a buyer's card had been revoked, there was no way for a seller to know that. The new verification system is designed to provide up-to-date information to sellers on the status of buyers' FOID cards.
The overall goal of the law is to reduce crime. But the law's critics, such as Breese gun shop owner Jim Hummert, say criminals aren't too concerned about following laws.
"I think we need to enforce the current laws on the books regarding felons possessing firearms before we try another tax-and-spend idea from Springfield," said Hummert, a retired sheriff's detective and police chief.
The law has no fine or other criminal punishment for failing to check a buyer's FOID status. The law states that failing to conduct the verification "shall not be punishable as a crime or petty offense."
But Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for Illinois State Police, noted that conducting the verification is a protection for the seller. The law says that if the seller conducts the verification, he or she "shall not be liable for damages in any civil action arising from the use or misuse by the transferee of the firearm transferred, except for willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the seller or transferor."
The law also requires gun owners to notify local police of any lost or stolen guns. The law requires an owner to report the loss within 72 hours of learning that a gun has been lost or stolen. Failure to report a lost or stolen gun is a petty offense for the first violation, and a misdemeanor for subsequent violations.
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at email@example.com or 239-2511.