FOI Act not meant to expose citizens to risk

Posted5/31/2011 4:00 AM

The Daily Herald editorial "Stop dimming transparency efforts," failed to understand the crux of the Freedom of Information Act argument. The Herald correctly stated that the point of the law is to help citizens keep government accountable so as to limit corruption. This is a valid goal, and indeed, should remain the primary focus of why the law exists.

However, as evidence that the law was being swept under the carpet, the Herald devoted much space to the recent decision of the state police to not release the names of FOID card holders. There were good reasons for this decision, which the Herald minimized. Nevertheless, the key point here is that it is citizen gun owners who would be exposed if the request for information were to be granted, not government officials. Again, the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to keep government accountable to citizens, not to expose citizens to risk.


The requirement of Illinois that gun owners first have an FOID card is a way the state holds citizen gun owners accountable to government. The Freedom of Information Act is designed to hold government accountable to citizens. Releasing those names is a direct contradiction of purpose for which the law exists.

The column then states, "You should be able to find out if the person following you has a license to keep a gun, whether the family of your child's friend has one and whether someone who makes decision on gun issues does." This is a specious argument. Maybe you would like to know this information but the Freedom of Information Act doesn't exist to give you access to it. If it did, that would be a huge invasion of personal privacy. In suggesting this use of the Act, the Herald is commingling purposes.

Brian Van Dine

Carol Stream