SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 17 signed legislation that gives gun owners a 60-day grace period to keep their Firearms Owners Identification Card active while their renewal application is being processed, even if the processing period extends beyond the card’s expiration date.
Previously, FOID cards were deemed invalid if they expired during the renewal process.
"We shouldn’t punish gun owners who make every effort to get their renewal applications in on time," Rauner said. "This grace period will ensure there is no interruption in their rights to keep their firearms."
House Bill 4855 also gives Illinois State Police 60 business days, instead of 30 calendar days, to review and approve renewal applications that are received in a timely manner.
"This is a win-win solution to problems for both gun owners and the ISP regarding FOID card suspensions, revocations and renewals," said State Police Director Leo Schmitz.
The legislation also adds additional protection to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with mental illness who have been deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
HB 4855 clarifies the reporting standards for hospitals and requires they report all mental health admissions to the state’s Department of Human Services. Tightening the reporting standards allows the state police to intervene more quickly and suspend a person’s FOID card.
"With nearly two-thirds of gun deaths attributable to suicide, this needed legislation will tighten up the regulations that serve to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable individuals," said state Rep. Barb Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake. "At the same time, we’re shoring up the Second Amendment rights of responsible FOID card holders by speeding up the renewal process and removing the component that needlessly allows these cards to expire."
"This new law allows the Illinois State Police, by rule, to suspend a FOID card for the duration of a disqualification, rather than having to permanently revoke the FOID card, as long as the disqualification is not a permanent grounds for revocation like a felony conviction," said state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, who served more than 32 years in law enforcement. "It also clarifies the definition of ‘patient’ so hospitals and mental health facilities have a better idea about who is subject to reporting guidelines required by the FOID Card Act, and what should be reported to the Department of Human Services, and ultimately the State Police."
Rauner also signed SB 2640, which allows retiring state agency law enforcement officers from Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, State Fire Marshal, Security of State Police and Capitol Police to buy the badges they wore during their careers.
"They earned these badges and wear them with pride," Rauner said.
These officers can also purchase their service firearms at replacement cost, effective immediately.
"As an officer, you carry your badge and gun every day," said state Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, a former Chicago police officer. "They are symbols of a career in law enforcement, and retiring officers have earned the opportunity to keep them as an honor to their commitment and service."
HB 5231 was also signed into law to encourage police officers to seek mental health treatment, without jeopardizing their career. The legislation provides that a police agency cannot make a FOID card a condition of continued employment if the card is temporarily revoked because of inpatient mental health treatment absent any determination of the officers being a danger to themselves or others. The bill is effective immediately.
Finally, HB 4348 was signed to require Illinois law enforcement agencies, medical examiners, and coroners to seek support from appropriate state and federal agencies, including the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, to facilitate prompt identification of human remains. It is estimated that nationwide 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year. The new law is effective immediately.