Policy Watch

Firearms fix

Stemming gun violence and saving lives are the goals of newly passed legislation in Illinois that will shore up the state’s outdated gun-license system, strengthen background checks and invest in mental health services for impacted communities.

The multi-pronged measure was spurred by a fatal 2019 mass shooting in Aurora that revealed failings in the state’s Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card system. A surge in gun-buying through the COVID-19 pandemic also created months-long delays in the ability of the Illinois State Police to process FOID applications and renewals.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the new legislation, which includes:

  • Expanding background checks to all gun sales, including all private, person-to-person sales
  • Creating a stolen-gun database
  • Requiring the Illinois State Police to monitor state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers
  • Reinforcing and streamlining the FOID system by encouraging gun buyers to submit fingerprints through reduced application fees and automatic renewals, among other updates

Read more details about the bill here. It was rooted in recommendations by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, resulting from a study funded by the Joyce Foundation.

The bill also directs the ISP to seek federal funds to assist with FOID improvements, one of several recommendations in an op-ed column by Tim Daly, a senior program officer in 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.

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