As Arie Friedman and Julie Morrison campaign to replace retiring state Sen. Susan Garrett in the 29th Senate District in November, gun control is becoming an issue where the two candidates are setting themselves apart.
Following an April report by the state Auditor General outlining several problems with the Firearm Owner's Identification system, Morrison announced a plan to reform it, including extending the period before a FOID card is issued.
The report showed that only 3 percent of the state's circuit courts properly report to the Illinois State Police when a person with mental health issues comes through the system and that only 30 percent of revoked FOID cards are properly returned.
Under state law, any Illinois resident who acquires or possesses a firearm or ammunition must have a valid FOID card.
Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, suggests legislation requiring courts to report mental health issues to state police and mandating that a person return any FOID cards to the state police within 14 days of receiving notice that it's been revoked. Current state law requires the state police to process FOID requests in less than 30 days, a time period Morrison wants extended to 45 days to cut down on overtime costs and allow more time for safe processing of applications.
"The state police need the time to be thorough about it, those extra days provide for extra public safety," she said. "A few extra days is a small price for additional safety."
Republican Arie Friedman agrees the system needs reform, but said he doesn't think Morrison's plan is the way to fix it.
"The FOID system is broken, everyone has known that for a long time," said Friedman, a pediatrician from Highland Park. "My thought is that the state police should follow the 12 recommendations from the auditor general on how to fix it."
Many of those recommendations address the administrative side of how the FOID office works, including making improvements in how a card holder is notified when a FOID card is revoked.
"I'd be worried about someone not getting notified because of a problem with the office, and then that person would have committed a crime when really it's an administrative issue," he said.
Once notified, Friedman said, a person should be required to turn in their FOID cards immediately.
"Either we need to make the (FOID) system work property, and it has clearly been dysfunctional for a long time, or we need to talk about if we want to continue spending money on it at all," he said. "We shouldn't keep dumping money into a system that doesn't work." Morrison said her plans for the FOID system are just step one in what she says will be a more detailed plan on gun control, an issue she sees as the differentiating factor between Friedman and herself. Morrison, who now serves as the Deerfield Township Supervisor, said she will roll out her official position on concealed carry and assault weapons in the next few months.
"I think we do need to talk about this, it's way overdue," she said, noting the recent shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Oak Creek, Wis., have brought the issue to the forefront.
"I respect the rights of hunters and sportsmen, but at the same time I'm concerned about having firearms in the hands of people who are mentally ill or who shouldn't have them, and unfortunately we've seen too many instances of that in the news recently," Morrison added.
Illinois is the only state that does not allow any form of concealed carry, an issue Friedman said he would support if the right bill came through. However, he said he would rather focus on violence prevention.
"Those laws won't (reduce violence)," Friedman said of Morrison's plan. "If you pass everything she wants to pass, the FOID system will still be systematically dysfunctional and we won't have done anything to make people safer."
The 29th Senate District represents communities in both Cook and Lake counties, including Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove.