Aurora shooting prompts efforts to tighten enforcement of gun laws

 
By Peter Hancock
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com
Updated 2/19/2019 7:56 PM
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  • Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman listens with Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a Friday night news conference after the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. plant. The governor said Tuesday that lawmakers intend to tighten rules about revoking Firearms Owners' Identification Cards.

      Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman listens with Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a Friday night news conference after the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. plant. The governor said Tuesday that lawmakers intend to tighten rules about revoking Firearms Owners' Identification Cards. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker and some state lawmakers said Tuesday that last week's mass shooting at an Aurora manufacturing plant will lead to efforts to tighten enforcement of the state's gun laws.

Five people were killed Friday and others were wounded, including five police officers, when a man who was being fired started shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. plant.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters during a news conference Saturday that Martin could not legally own a gun. Although he had been issued a Firearms Owners' Identification Card, that permit was canceled after he applied for a concealed carry permit and a fingerprint search revealed he had a felony conviction in another state.

Still, neither state nor local authorities tried to confiscate Martin's weapon.

"We need to make sure that we're addressing that," Pritzker said at a news conference Tuesday after an unrelated bill-signing ceremony. "My entire team is focused on it and has been all weekend and through today, and we're going to make sure to make proposals that will tighten the rules around revocation of FOID cards."

Democratic state Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield said in an interview that there are many circumstances under which a person can have an FOID card revoked, such as felony convictions and mental illness diagnoses, but that little effort is made to follow through and make sure those people turn in their cards, and their guns.

"If you lost your FOID card for whatever reason, you'd get a letter saying, 'Hey, you know that you can't have a FOID. Please mail it in.' And if you don't, no one really follows up," she said.

Morrison is the lead sponsor of a bill introduced earlier in the session, Senate Bill 1145, that would authorize the Department of Public Health to levy fines and other sanctions on public mental health facilities that fail to report the names of patients who are diagnosed with disorders that disqualify them from owning guns.

She said that bill could easily be expanded to include additional kinds of enforcement mechanisms.

Meanwhile, Aurora-area lawmakers reacted Tuesday with speeches at the Capitol in Springfield.

Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora gave an emotional speech on the House floor, where she praised the law enforcement officers who responded. She also read the names of all the victims.

"All these individuals left behind families and friends who loved them and cherished them as a part of their lives," she said. "They are forever in our hearts and our thoughts at such a senseless loss of life.

Democratic state Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora called for a moment of silence on the Senate floor in honor of the victims, saying, "We will never be able to mend the loss or undo the trauma to those who witnessed these events Friday afternoon at Henry Pratt, and to those whose lives are forever changed because of this heartbreaking attack."

In a separate interview, Holmes described herself as a "staunch" supporter of individual gun rights. But she said the fact that the shooter managed to keep his weapon even after having his permit revoked showed her that the state needs stricter enforcement.

"He wasn't allowed a concealed carry card, they revoked his FOID card, and yet he still managed to have his weapon," Holmes said. "That's where I think the disconnect is."

A spokesman for the Illinois State Rifle Association, which typically opposes legislative efforts to limit gun ownership rights, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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