Policy Watch

Firearms fix


Saving lives by stemming gun violence is the goal of a new law in Illinois that will strengthen background checks, shore up the state’s outdated gun-license system, and invest in mental health services for impacted communities.

The multi-pronged measure – passed with bipartisan support by the General Assembly -- was spurred by a fatal 2019 mass shooting in Aurora that revealed failings in the state’s Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card system. Five people were killed and six wounded by a warehouse worker whose firearms should have been taken away after his FOID card was revoked.

The law also is intended to solve months-long delays in the ability of the Illinois State Police to process FOID applications and renewals, made worse by a surge in gun-buying through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The law will:

  • Expand background checks to all gun sales, including all private, person-to-person sales – which Gov. J.B. Pritzker said would close “a deadly loophole” when he signed the measure into law.
  • Create a stolen-gun database
  • Require the Illinois State Police to monitor state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers
  • Reinforce and streamline the FOID system by encouraging gun buyers to submit fingerprints through reduced application fees and automatic renewals, among other updates

The law was rooted in evidence-based recommendations for reducing gun violence in Illinois by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy. The recommendations were included in a report commissioned by the Foundation.

The legislation also directs the ISP to seek federal funds to assist with improvements to the FOID process, one of several recommendations in an op-ed column by Tim Daly, director of the Foundation’s Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform program.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

Related Content


Working with CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)

Panelists presented NVDRS, discussed how NVDRS data was used in their work, and showcased how other researchers can access NVDRS for their own work through the Restricted Access Database, or RAD.


Justice Reform Convening Inspires Infinite Hope

Joyce hosted a first-of-its-kind convening of policing and public safety grantees. GVPJR Program Officer Dr. Quintin Williams shared his thoughts about the gathering and why, despite so many challenges in creating safer communities, he still has hope.

In The Media

'The Gun Machine': A podcast about how America was forged by the gun industry

Produced by WBUR and The Trace, the podcast looks into the history of the relationship between the gun industry and the U.S. government. 'The Gun Machine' debuts on Oct. 4, 2023.

WBUR; The Trace


New Data from MN on Different Approaches to Public Safety

In recent years, crime and public safety has become a top issue of concern among policy makers, researchers, advocates, and communities. During this briefing, researchers Daniel Gotoff and Brian Nienaber presented data specific to the state of Minnesota.

Research Report

Investing in Governance and Management Can Make Violence Reduction Efforts Successful

An action research and practice agenda to clarify the challenges and opportunities inherent to implementing, managing and governing community violence intervention (CVI) work in cities.


Implementing Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Tools for the Field

Lunch & Learn webinar presents a new report that details promising practices for policymakers and practitioners alike in implementing Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) policies more effectively. June 2023


Reclaiming Reform: Policing, Public Safety & Public Trust

Joyce and Crain's Business Chicago hosted a public forum to discuss national best practices in police reform and assess how they could be applied to Chicago as the City works to implement it’s consent decree and selects a new leader of CPD.


New Responses to Illegal Gun Possession: Prosecutor Led Gun Diversion Program Evaluation Results From Minneapolis, MN and Brooklyn, NY 

During this webinar, researchers from The Marron Institute and the Smart Decarceration Project housed at the University of Chicago present new findings from evaluations of two prosecutor led gun diversion programs