Politics & Government

Illinois House approves fingerprinting for FOID cards. See how local legislators voted

People who have firearm owner identification cards may soon need to be fingerprinted under legislation passed Wednesday in the Illinois House.

Under the proposed legislation, fingerprints would be required for anyone who applies for or renews a Firearms Owners Identification Card. Fingerprinting would be a one-time charge, said state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, the chief sponsor of the bill.

“Once you do fingerprints, you’re on file, and you don’t have to redo it again,” Willis said.

The measure passed 62 to 52, with all members representing parts of the metro-east voting ‘no.’

The state Senate still needs to approve the bill before it can be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The legislation was proposed in response to the workplace shooting in Aurora, where the shooter killed five people and wounded five police officers. The shooter was killed as well.

The shooter had a FOID card, but when he applied for a conceal carry license a fingerprint check showed he had a criminal conviction that would prevent him from owning firearms. His firearms, however, were never taken away from him.

Under the proposal, both new applications for FOID cards and five-year card renewals would cost $20. The current cost for FOID applications and card renewals is $10.

FOID cards would last just five years instead of 10.

The legislation allows for background checks to look at both state and national databases.

It also would create a database of people prohibited from owning a gun that could be accessed by law enforcement. The bill creates an Illinois State Police task force to take guns away from people who have had their FOID card revoked as well as those deemed to be a clear and present danger to themselves or others.

The new amendment also places a cap of $30 on the price vendors can charge for FOID fingerprinting, something that is not currently required but would be if the legislation is passed.

In an interview last month, state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, objected to the idea of requiring fingerprints for FOID cards applicants.

“I am against the fingerprinting. I believe we have far exceeded going against our second amendment rights in trying to finger print our citizens,” Meier said. “The shooter in Aurora should have been caught by the laws we already have. He was breaking the laws we already have. What does fingerprinting honest citizens have to do with it?”

Willis argued that fingerprinting isn’t new, as people may be fingerprinted to apply for a job, to work with children, or to even access their computers or iPads.

“This bill has come about in response to an unfortunate tragedy we saw a few months ago which brought to light a number of loopholes were in our FOID system,” Willis said. “We have some work to do to make sure firearms are only owned by law-abiding citizens.”

State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said Willis’ proposal may be challenged in court, and legislators should concentrate on recovery of weapons when a FOID card is revoked.

“It could be run on pretty much bipartisan support” and not be challenge in courts, Wheeler said.

He added there is U.S. Supreme Court case that is being considered that may affect the state’s FOID card process.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, argued the legislature should be looking at why mass shootings are occurring.

“This is a mental health issue,” Wilhour said. “A segment of our society is sick. Why aren’t we asking why? Why aren’t we dealing with that?”

Wilhour called the legislation a government overreach.

“It makes it more onerous, more burdensome for law-abiding citizens to exercise a constitutional right,” Wilhour said.

Lindsey Salvatelli of Capitol News Illinois contributed to this article.

How metro-east legislators voted

State Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey: No

State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis: No

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea: No

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville: No

State Rep. Nathan Reitz, D-Steeleville: No

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville: No

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City: No

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.