YORKVILLE – After a shooter opened fire three weeks ago at an Aurora manufacturing facility, Illinois State Police recently announced changes in state policy to better follow up on people with revoked Firearm Owner’s Identification and concealed carry licenses.
Illinois State Police officials said in a Wednesday news release the changes include having state police liaisons share current lists of people with revoked FOID cards with local law enforcement and state’s attorneys in each jurisdiction on a continuing basis.
Illinois State Police Lt. Joe Hutchins said it previously was up to local law enforcement to follow up with FOID card and concealed carry license revocations.
“Now we’re going to work hand-in-hand,” Hutchins said.
The changes come after the mass shooting incident Feb. 15 at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, where former employer Gary Martin shot and killed five people and wounded six others after being laid off. Martin later was fatally shot by police.
Martin received a FOID card in 2014, but it was revoked later that year after his application for a concealed carry license was denied because of an aggravated assault conviction in Mississippi.
Illinois State Police said in a Feb. 21 news release that the agency’s revocation procedure in 2014 was to notify local, county and state law enforcement agencies of Martin’s revocation and where he lived. State police said their records do not contain a copy of an electronic notification sent to law enforcement for Martin and those records are purged after three years. Aurora police officials have said they don’t have any record of receiving notice from Illinois State Police on the matter.
An employee injured during the shooting at Henry Pratt Company filed a lawsuit against the state Friday seeking $2,000,000 in damages, alleging negligence from the state regarding the FOID card and firearm revocation process. Illinois State Police Sgt. Christopher Watson declined comment Friday, citing state police policy on not commenting on pending litigation.
Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird said that, like most other local departments, the sheriff’s office has received notices in the past from state police about FOID cards revoked from people in the area. He said it’s been more of a courtesy from state police to local law enforcement to let municipalities know of potential firearms being turned in to their departments.
Baird said the sheriff’s office wouldn’t get a follow-up letter saying whether a resident at a specific address had complied with Illinois State Police orders to return their firearms.
“So we have no idea of knowing who’s complying and who’s not,” Baird said.
Baird said the sheriff’s office has not had any access to a statewide database.
“If we don’t have access to that information, how do we know if they are committing the crime?” Baird asked.
Illinois State Police received 256,353 FOID card applications in 2018, according to a Feb. 21 Illinois State Police news release.
The same year, 10,818 Illinois FOID cards were revoked and state police received only 2,616 firearm disposition records, the Feb. 21 news release said, and 3,469 FOID cards were returned to Illinois State Police.
Only 10 people were arrested in 2018 statewide for failing to return their FOID card or not submitting a firearm disposition record, the Feb. 21 news release said.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said he was made aware of the incoming FOID policy changes, including local jurisdictions receiving lists of people with revoked FOID cards and concealed carry licenses. He said he was not aware if the changes have been fully implemented by the state.
“We have not received one [list from the state] as of yet,” Weis said.
Yorkville Police Chief Rich Hart said the department has never been asked by state police to retract peoples’ FOID cards or guns. He said most occurrences of local police having to revoke a resident’s FOID card or firearms comes through the court system and police have to get a warrant from a judge to take the firearms – which only happens maybe once every couple of years.
“I can’t even remember the last time we did, to be honest with you,” Hart said.
Hart said the underlying question has always been what local police do when they receive letters from state police regarding a revoked FOID card. He said the department has always been under the impression that the state police handles those situations, and not local agencies.
“We don’t even know exactly how many people are in the communities that do have revoked FOID cards,” Hart said.
Hart said Yorkville police, along with neighboring departments, are trying to figure out how to best handle the state police policy changes going forward.