Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed two bills into law that could help prevent people who are a threat to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing guns. The bills, which have bipartisan and bicameral support, are part of the comprehensive public safety plan that the governor unveiled earlier this year.
Rauner’s signature on HB 2354 enacts “red flag” legislation giving courts authority to use emergency civilrestraining orders to disarm dangerous individuals; and with the signing of SB 3256, the 72-hour waiting period for handguns delivery is extended to all guns purchased in Illinois.
At the press conference announcing the bill actions, Rauner urged legislators to get to work on other public safety legislation, including proposals that give schools the ability to hire more resource officers and mental health workers, a point he will make at an event in Dixon later today where he will meet with local law enforcement officials and School Resource Officer Mark Dallas, the Dixon officer who was hailed a hero after he stopped a school shooting there in May.
He also used the press conference to make it clear that he will veto dealer licensing legislation (SB 337) if and when it is sent to his desk.
Bipartisan support for emergency restraining orders
“Everyone agrees that we need to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would use them to commit acts of violence against themselves or others,” said Rauner. “These two laws are a commonsense approach that gives us tools to limit access to guns and perhaps save lives while we continue to respect Constitutional rights.”
The new “red flag” law means the courts can prevent possession or purchase of firearms in emergency situations where there is imminent danger of gun violence.
“In the wake of gun violence tragedies, we hear again and again from friends and family members who saw warning signs but felt helpless because they couldn’t keep guns away. With this law, families and law enforcement can seek emergency restraining orders if a person’s gun possession would pose a significant danger to themselves or others. Signing this bill will save lives,” said Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake, co-sponsor of HB 2354.
“Acts of senseless violence in schools, churches or other public places are all too often committed by individuals who have shown signs that they are mentally unstable and interested in causing harm to themselves or others,” said State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard. “This tightly worded legislation puts critical protections in place to help curb mass shootings by disturbed individuals who should not have access to guns. It’s an excellent example of how we can produce good legislation when politics is set aside, and Republicans and Democrats work together.”
“The legislation signed into law today addresses the growing problem of unstable people using guns to cause harm, while also protecting gun owners’ rights,” said Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, also a chief co-sponsor. “The firearms restraining order bill that was sent to us by the Senate represented an extreme overreach into the civil liberties and Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. It also lacked adequate due process for the individuals from whom firearms would be removed.”
“Domestic violence, suicides, and poor mental health continues to destroy Illinois families and communities across Illinois. This new law gives families a tool to help prevent or lessen violence in Illinois,” said Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago.
“One of our goals on the Legislative Public Safety Working Group was to recommend policies that would help to stop future tragedies before they start. That’s exactly what this legislation intends to do,” said Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles. “As we’ve learned from previous mass shooting situations, family members and others had noticed unstable, reckless or suspicious behavior. It is my hope that by providing a legal avenue for family members, acquaintances or law enforcement to identify and potentially stop a seemingly dangerous individual from harming themselves or committing a deadly act of violence, we can prevent a tragedy from occurring.”
“With help from the public in identifying dangerous individuals, this initiative allows for law enforcement to temporarily remove the individual’s FOID card and firearms until the court determines they are no longer a present danger to others,” said Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst. “It’s a preventative measure that could save lives in Illinois, and I appreciate the governor’s support and swift enactment.”
Waiting period for all gun purchases
The 72-hour waiting period in SB 3256 is a bipartisan measure extending the wait to all guns purchased in the state. It, too, has the potential to prevent tragedies. In suicide cases, for example, health professionals say if the impulse to commit suicide is not acted upon immediately, it often does not arise again. The short delay prior to possession could be the difference between life and death.
“No such need with respect to firearm possession is answered by the amended dealer licensing bill passed by the General Assembly (SB 337),” the governor said. “I intend to veto it again because it has no appreciable potential to reduce criminal access to guns.”
According to Loyola University studies on gun violence in Chicago, criminals rarely buy their guns directly from federally licensed and regulated gun dealers. Criminals obtain their guns further down the supply chain, usually from street sources and most often from sources out of state. No amount of duplicative state regulation of gun dealers, who are already federally licensed, will change that reality.
In addition, Rauner said that SB 337 creates another unnecessary regulatory burden for 2,700 small businesses whose livelihoods would be threatened.
The governor’s comprehensive public safety plan calls for an amendment to the County School Facilities Sales Tax statute to let school authorities use the revenue to hire school resource officers or mental health workers based on local determinations of need. The plan also included the emergency restraining order and 72-hour laws as well as truth-in-sentencing and fiscal reforms to spur economic development and create jobs.
The governor believes bipartisan public safety discretion is what voters ought to have. Use of revenue from this sales tax revenue, provided it is approved by referendum, is a sensible step toward providing adequate security for our schools and giving more local control to our communities, Rauner said.
The governor introduced a comprehensive public safety plan in May. The plan included the 72-hour waiting period for all guns, an emergency restraining order, school resource officer plan, as well as a bump stock ban, truth in sentencing, and a death penalty provision for mass murderers and those who kill police officers.