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Dart legislation to get guns away from felons, mentally ill gains momentum
Legislation pushed by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to reform and strengthen the enforcement provisions of the state’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) system appears to be building steam in Springfield. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
SPRINGFIELD-Both sides of the gun-control debate could be headed for a rare agreement at the Statehouse on a push by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to get guns out of the hands of felons and the seriously mentally ill.
His plan would require gun owners to surrender their state-issued Firearm Owners Identification Cards within 48 hours of being notified they were ineligible to possess a gun because of being convicted of a felony or domestic violence or being judged mentally ill.
A top gun-rights advocate told the Chicago Sun-Times late Tuesday that his “intuition” was an agreement could be reached on the issue with gun-control supporters.
In Cook County, about 5,000 people have had their state gun permits revoked by the Illinois State Police, making them ineligible to buy weapons. But only about 1,000 have actually turned in the cards, leaving them able to buy ammunition at will, Dart’s office said.
Under the sheriff’s measure, those who had their permits taken away also would have to account for where their weapons would be maintained during the period of time their FOID cards were revoked.
Additionally, the legislation would empower police for the first time to obtain search warrants against anyone suspected of not surrendering their FOID cards or accounting for their weapons if their cards were revoked.
“We spend so much time talking about the gun issue on a lot of different levels, but here you have something where there should be no debate on anyone’s part,” Dart told the Chicago Sun-Times during an interview in Springfield, where he hosted a fundraiser Tuesday evening.
“People clearly aren’t supposed to have a gun because they’ve been criminally convicted or have a serious mental illness. But our system, if it were to work perfectly, just prohibits them from buying new guns. It does nothing about their old guns — literally nothing. And that is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen,” Dart said.
The plan is not drawing outright opposition from gun-rights advocates, who said a deal could be within sight in the state Senate, where state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) is overseeing gun legislation this spring.
Both Raoul and Dart are mulling potential runs next year for attorney general if Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan challenges Gov. Pat Quinn. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon also has been mentioned as a possibility for the state’s top law-enforcment post.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with the sponsor, and we’re trying to work through the issues. I think we agree that picking up revoked FOID cards is something that needs to be addressed. We’re just trying to figure out the mechanisms and protections,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.
“My intuition at this point, based on a conversation I’ve had with the sponsor, is I think we’ll be able to reach an agreement on stuff. At least I’m hopeful,” Vandermyde said late Tuesday.