Illinois police unveil 'first steps' making it harder for gun owners to keep firearms after licenses revoked

Illinois police unveil 'first steps' making it harder for gun owners to keep firearms after licenses revoked

Illinois State Police on Wednesday released a sweeping list of changes aimed at making it harder for felons to keep firearms, a move which comes nearly three weeks after a gunman killed five people in Aurora with a weapon he wasn’t supposed to have.  

The “aggressive, exhaustive effort” is aimed at improving operations and information sharing between law enforcement agencies when firearm owners identification (FOID) cards are revoked.

Each sheriff, police chief, and state’s attorney will now be informed about why a person's FOID card has been pulled and whether they have properly turned over the card and accounted for their weapons. 

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Local law enforcement will also be provided a list of firearms purchased by people whose cards have already been revoked.

State police are beginning to “immediately triage” a list of gun revocations and develop a plan to ensure that “high risk individuals” no longer have access to weapons as the changes are being implemented. 

“While the weaknesses of our nation’s background check system remain daunting, we must take whatever steps we can, large and small, to strengthen the fabric of these systems because any improvement could be the one that makes the difference,” Brendan Kelly, acting director of the Illinois State Police, said in a statement. “While we simply cannot do it alone, we must increase sharing of information, the quality and value of information shared, and most importantly enforcement. Mailed letters are not enough.”

The changes come nearly three weeks after a suspect, who should not have had a weapon given his criminal record, killed five people at a manufacturing plant.

Gary Martin, 45, had a lengthy criminal record with six prior arrests, including one for a felony aggravated assault charge that prevented him from legally owning the weapon. 

Martin’s 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi was missed in two background checks in Illinois because it was not included in federal databases, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Martin passed a state police background check in 2014 to obtain his FOID card and passed another background check months later where he bought a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, according to the newspaper.

His criminal history was flagged for state agencies after he was fingerprinted for an application for a concealed carry license, which was denied. A letter was sent to him saying his firearm license had been revoked.

The Aurora Police Department would have been notified of the revocation through the statewide police database, the newspaper noted. Martin did not provide a written account of his firearms to local law enforcement as required by law, and he carried a gun for five years before the mass shooting.