ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL - A loophole intentionally built into Illinois gun possession law may have been a contributing factor in the mass shooting in Aurora, IL, that killed 5 innocent people and wounded six more last week.
A sixth cross was placed in front of the site of the massacre by the family of the gunman, Gary Martin, 45, by his family Tuesday. His relatives offered their condolences to the victims.
Martin’s state Firearm Owners ID (FOID) had been revoked.
No one collected his card or his weapons as authorized by state law.
Ultimately, no law enforcement agency is required to do so.
Illinois State Police issued 10,818 FOID card revocations in 2018 alone; more than 48,000 since 2014: the year Martin’s was issued and revoked.
When revocations are issued, State Police, don’t go find the gun owners and take away their guns.
They send notices to the gun owners and to local police and sheriffs.
Martin’s FOID card was revoked less than three months after it was issued in 2014 when it was discovered that he lied on his application about a past felony conviction for nearly beating a woman to death in Mississippi in 1995.
So, he should not have owned any firearms at the time of last week’s massacre.
State law requires him to surrender his card and any guns or give his firearms to another FOID card holder, submitting a firearm disposition form listing all weapons and to whom they were transferred.
Still, it is essentially an honor system. There is no law requiring any police agency to take away FOID cards or make sure people comply.
St. Clair County Sheriff, Rick Watson, says nearly all of the 20 or so revocations in St. Clair County last year stemmed from protection orders, and not felony convictions. His department enforced them all, either at court, by voluntary surrender, or a visit to the gun owner’s residence.
In the last legislative session, State Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield introduced a bill authorizing but not requiring Illinois State Police to get arrest warrants for FOID card offenders. The bill went nowhere.
"There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, and their futures," new Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.
His administration is reviewing FOID card revocation issues.
Even if properly enforced it may not have stopped Martin, Sheriff Watson said.
“That’s why it’s so important for people (citizens) to get involved and let police know what’s going on…you can make all the laws you want but if somebody wants to get a firearm in today’s society, they’re going to get one. That’s the bottom line. You’re not going to legislate it,” he said.
This case makes it tragically obvious: passing laws but spending no money to enforce them doesn’t work very well.