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stemming gun violence is the goal of a new law in Illinois that will strengthen background checks, shore up the state’s outdated gun-license system, and invest in mental health services for impacted communities.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people were killed and six wounded by a warehouse worker whose firearms should have been taken away after his FOID card was revoked.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


Emerging Research into Concealed Carry Licensing

Researchers from The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions discussed two new research studies about the changing policy landscape regarding state concealed carry gun laws.

Grantee Spotlight

Collective Engagement for Community Peace: Understanding the Black & Brown Researchers Collective

We caught up recently with Dr. Buggs, one of the nation’s leading experts on community violence intervention and using anti-racist methods to reduce gun violence, about the status of the Collective and what’s to come.

Black & Brown Researchers Collective


Reimagining Public Safety: Community Listening Sessions with Black Communities and Defenders

A discussion on the report "Reimagining Public Safety: Community Listening Sessions with Black Communities and Defenders" which aims to help build sustainable public safety reforms formed on a responsiveness to community needs.


Using Public Funding for Community Violence Intervention Strategies: Successes and Challenges

Panelists discussed new report "Coordinating Safety: Building and Sustaining Offices of Violence Prevention and Neighborhood Safety" which examines the current landscape of Offices of Violence Prevention and identifies policy recommendations.

Grantee Spotlight

Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Reflect on “Aspirational” Work During 11th Annual Vigil

In December 2023, Joyce grantee Newtown Action Alliance held it's 11th annual vigil. Hundreds of survivors, many carrying pictures of fallen loved ones, packed St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

Newtown Action Alliance


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