Illinois House approves bill to fingerprint gun owners

Illinois House approves bill to fingerprint gun owners
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The Illinois House on Wednesday approved a bill that requires residents to get fingerprinted before obtaining a firearm license, a measure that comes following a February mass shooting at an Aurora, Ill., manufacturing plant. 

The measure narrowly passed on a 62-52 vote despite fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

GOP state Rep. Darren Bailey reportedly called the bill “a total and complete infringement of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.”

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In addition to fingerprinting, the measure also raises the application fee for the firearm owner’s identification (FOID) cards. The outlet noted that the price would hike from $10 for 10-year card to $20 for a five-year license if signed into law. 

Kathleen Sances, president of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, told the outlet that the bill would greatly impact the number of criminal histories caught through fingerprinting.

“If we can do that on the front end, the person is not going to get the gun in the first place,” Sances said. “And then we don’t have to go and revoke it.”

The bill also creates a task force to enforce the surrender of firearms for people who have lost their gun licenses, a loophole that allegedly had allowed a man suspected of killing five people to keep his firearm. 

Investigators said that Gary Martin, 45, was carrying a Smith and Wesson handgun in February despite his lengthy criminal record that should have prevented him buying the handgun used in the shooting. 

A background check using five distinct federal databases failed to show his 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi, allowing him to improperly acquire a FOID card, the Tribune noted. His conviction was flagged for authorities in 2014 when he applied for a concealed carry license and provided his fingerprints but his weapon was not taken away.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said after the shooting that police were investigating why the gun has not been removed from Martin’s possession.

The bill also comes after a Tribune investigation found that more than 34,000 Illinois residents had their FOID cards rescinded during the past four years, but nearly 80 percent still could be armed since law enforcement did not follow up on revocations.