This editorial originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Illinois Shooter
Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many people have put forth solutions on how to stop that from ever happening again. They have been on local and network television and talk shows. Most have been non-gun owners, anti-gun supporters, and opponents of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
First, a short history of Illinois gun regulations. In 1968, the state of Illinois created the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (The FOID Act 430 ILCS 65) commonly known as the FOID card. We are the only one of 50 states that has such a law. This law states that any Illinois resident who acquires or possesses firearms, firearm ammunition, tasers, or stun guns within the state must have a valid FOID card issued in his or her name. At one time in Illinois, it was a misdemeanor if you were caught without this card while having a firearm, ammunition, taser, or stun gun in your possession. Several years ago the state changed that misdemeanor category to a felony, requiring a person found guilty to serve jail time.
Until January 1, 2014, citizens of Illinois could not carry a concealed firearm unless it was licensed under a special law for bondsmen, private detectives, and others. A federal judge in June 2013 ordered the state of Illinois to create a law and procedure to allow all law-abiding Illinois citizens, after training and a full background check, to carry concealed firearms.
It has long been Illinois law that no one under the age of twenty-one years old could purchase a handgun; no one under eighteen could purchase a long gun. This long gun law is under review whether to require the purchaser to be twenty-one years old. Since 1968, no one could purchase any firearm unless he had a valid FOID card. Felons cannot own, or have in their possession, a firearm and cannot be issued a FOID card.
Since January 2014, Illinois has required that a concealed carry training program be given to residents by qualified instructors who have been background checked and qualified by the Illinois State Police. That class must be at least 16 hours long unless specified limits are met, and a final shooting test must be completed. Persons then applying for their license through the State Police are put through a complete local, state, and federal police background check before their license is issued. Since I am a retired federal agent, military firearms instructor, certified NRA Pistol Instructor, and a certified Illinois Concealed Carry instructor, I have given many of these classes.
During the week of March 5, the following suggestion on how to get reasonable gun laws passed was published in the Chicago Tribune:
- Ban assault rifles,
- Create a national licensing-registration matching the serial numbers of all guns to owners to easily track the purchase or transfer of the ownership of guns, and
- Create a comprehensive national database of individuals with serious mental health issues and pass laws that prohibit their gun ownership.
However, the only way a ban on assault rifles could be accomplished is with a change to the Second Amendment and a subsequent Supreme Court Challenge, which would surely come from the NRA.
To create a national licensing-registration using gun serial numbers and gun owners’ names would necessitate a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which addresses illegal search and seizures. To get persons who have one gun or many guns to freely register the types of guns they own and their serial numbers would take a change to the Constitution, the Second Amendment, or a law passed by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed by the president, and that will never happen. If it did, police would be required to visit every home with guns and force the owners to produce their guns and register them.
Creating a database of individuals with serious mental issues to prevent gun ownership is a good idea, but who will make that determination? How will it be supervised so it is not abused?
Many of the people who are demanding responsible gun laws be passed need to read the following list of gun laws on the books now that are not being applied nearly enough.
- Private interstate sales between individuals trading in any firearm is illegal, sec 922(a)(3). Penalty five years in jail.
- For any person to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person he knows does not reside in the same state, sec 922(a)(5). Penalty five years in jail.
- Making false or fictitious statements in purchasing a firearm or exhibits false identification, sec 922(a)(6) also filling out form 4473. Penalty ten years in jail.
- Federal felony for any convicted felon to buy, receive, or transport any firearm or ammunition, sec 922(g)(2). Penalty ten years in jail.
- Transporting firearms to New York City, sec 922(g)( l). Penalty is fifty years in jail.
- A person found to be a gun runner, sec 924 (e)(l). Penalty fifteen years in jail.
- A violation of the Gun Control Act, sec 924 (b)(l). Penalty is ten years in jail.
- Transferring a firearm knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence sec 924(h). Penalty ten years in jail.
- Selling a firearm or ammunition to a convicted felon, sec 922(d)(1). Penalty ten years in jail.
- To sell or give to an individual firearms or ammunition to a person using or addicted to a controlled substance sec 922(d)(3). Penalty ten years in jail.
- 18 U.S.C. criminalizes shipment or transportation of a stolen firearm. Penalty ten years in jail.
- 18 U.S.C. & 922(g) covers possession of a stolen firearm. Penalty ten years in jail.
These are just some of the common-sense or responsible firearm laws on the books that are not charged enough. To those who want more responsible laws passed, I ask: What other laws can you recommend when Attorneys General from each state are not currently using these tools to stop gun violations?
Lance Jacobsen, a retired federal agent, and an ISRA member can be visited at www. snoopy1ccw.com.