Fingerprinting For FOID Cards Clears IL House

May 29, 2019

People who want to legally own a firearm in Illinois would have to submit fingerprints under legislation approved Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.

The legislation would require a one-time submission of fingerprints to get or renew a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card or concealed carry license.

The fingerprints would go into Illinois State Police and FBI databases, which track criminal records and prior FOID card suspensions or revocations.

Opponents argue it would treat law-abiding citizens like criminals. But state Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, said Illinois already uses fingerprinting for a variety of safety measures.

“This chamber, in fact, required fingerprinting for people that work with children to make sure we have correct background checks,” Willis said. “Well, another way we can protect our children is making sure that the wrong people do not own firearms.”

Willis said requiring fingerprints would help catch people applying under a fraudulent identity. She said it could also find those who have been convicted of crimes in other states.

The proposal comes after a man shot and killed five former coworkers and wounded responding police in Aurora earlier this year. The shooter obtained a FOID card after lying about his criminal record, which included a felony conviction in Mississippi. His card was later revoked, but police never made sure he got rid of his guns.

Still, Republicans said fingerprinting is an undue burden on a constitutional right — and doesn’t address what they call the “cause” of gun violence.

“This is a mental health issue,” said state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, who represents Beecher City. “Why aren’t we dealing with that? Is it because, as a society, we’ve devalued life?”

The legislation would double the cost of FOID applications and cut their expiration time in half. Instead of $10 for 10 years, they’d cost $20 dollars for five years. That money would go to the state police to run the program and follow up on revoked cards.

Applicants would also have to cover the cost of fingerprinting. The legislation caps the amount fingerprint vendors can charge at $30.

Republicans — and some Chicago Democrats — said the cost could disproportionately affect people with low-incomes, including veterans and seniors.

The legislation (Senate Bill 1966) still needs Senate approval before it can go to the governor.