Legislative News from Senator Don DeWitte

Governor’s department rules under FOID Act allowed Highland Park suspect to purchase firearms
In the days following the July 4 Highland Park mass shooting, where seven people died and dozens of others were injured, it was discovered that the alleged shooter was issued a Firearms Owner’s Identification (FOID) card just months after he threatened to kill his family. After that incident in 2019, the local police department did their due diligence and filed a “clear-and-present-danger” report with the Illinois State Police (ISP), but because of administrative rules filed by ISP and supported by the Governor, that report was not kept on file, and the suspect was issued a FOID card.

There is nothing in the current Firearm Owner’s Identification Act (430 ILCS 65) that limits the amount of time that a “clear-and-present-danger” report can be kept on file. ISP and the Governor’s Administration made a choice when they wrote the administrative rules (procedures for how a new law will be implemented and enforced) for the Act. They essentially tied the hands of the ISP and severely limited the scope of available information that could be accessed when reviewing FOID card applications. Given the recent spike in violent crime in our state, the Pritzker Administration could have changed the FOID Act administrative rules at any time, especially after Governor Pritzker said a thorough review of the FOID Act was done following the gun violence tragedy in Aurora a few years ago. The rule change did not happen until now.

Last week, the rules that allowed the suspect to purchase several firearms including the one he used on July 4, were changed under new emergency rules filed by the ISP. While I’m glad to see the rule change, the updates make it clear that the Governor’s Administration could have done more to prevent the Highland Park shooter from obtaining a gun under current law.

In the instance of the Highland Park Shooting, the FOID Act was not utilized to its fullest extent. The FOID Act provides broad statutory discretion when it comes to denying individuals a FOID card who has communicated a serious threat of physical violence or who has displayed threatening physical or verbal behavior, including threats of suicide and a history of narcotics use. The accused shooter in Highland Park had several prohibitors that should have prevented the issuance of a FOID card.

This is yet another example of the Administration’s failure to fully exercise the complete extent of its authority under the law to combat gun-related crimes. I believe strongly that firearms must be kept out of the hands of dangerous individuals, and it infuriates me that a law was already in place that could have prevented the Highland Park shooter from legally obtaining a gun.

 

New, simplified suicide and mental health hotline activated
Those in need of mental health or suicide prevention assistance will no longer have to dial an 11-digit phone number to access professional help. A new three-digit code, 9-8-8, will now route callers and texters to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Lifeline. The 9-8-8 system went live across the country on July 16.

When people call, text or chat 9-8-8, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen, assess, provide support, and connect them with additional resources if necessary. The current Lifeline phone number of 1-800-273-8255 will remain active.

 

Plans for 2022 Illinois State Fair coming together
Plans are coming together for the annual Illinois State Fair, which will be held in Springfield from August 11-21. The theme for this year’s State Fair is “Grow With Us.” While gates open to guests at 7:00 AM on Aug. 11, the Twilight Parade, which officially kicks off the Fair, will take place at 5:30 PM that day. Carnival rides will be active later in the day on Aug.11, after thorough inspections are conducted throughout the day.

A wide variety of entertainers have been lined up for performances at the main grandstand area, and tickets for those concerts are now available. Click here to view the lineup. Additional entertainment will take place on other stages on the fairgrounds. A daily calendar of events can be found here.

After the closing festivities in Springfield on August 21, the celebration moves to southern Illinois for the DuQoin State Fair, which will run from August 25 until September 5. Information about the DuQuoin State Fair can be found here.

In addition to the state’s fairs, each county also has its own county fair. Here in Kane and McHenry Counties, our fairs are always very well attended. The Kane County Fair just ended (July 13-17), but the McHenry County fair gets underway during the first week of August. To learn more about the McHenry County Fair, click here.

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