On Monday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner surprised a lot of folks by signing two gun control bills. First, he signed a bill to increase the waiting period on all gun purchases to three days. Secondly, he signed the “Snitch Bill” or Lethal Violence Order of Protection bill. In the end, gun owners now face two new gun control measures and we received nothing in return.
The National Rifle Association’s announcement spells out the impact of the bills on Prairie State gun owners.
On July 17th, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 3256 into law. NRA opposed these bills during the legislative process because they will allow Second Amendment rights to be revoked without due process and expand waiting periods.
House Bill 2354, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-77), will allow for the issuance of protective orders to infringe on Second Amendment rights based on third party allegations with little, if any, real evidence and limited “due process” for the respondent. Hearings for the orders will be ex parte, where the respondent is not present to challenge the accuser and defend against allegations made against them. The issuance of an order will immediately prohibit the respondent from exercising their Second Amendment rights. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms should not be treated as a second-class right and should only be restricted consistent with the constitutional requirements of due process.
Senate Bill 3256, as amended by Representative Jonathan Carroll (D-57), will expand the 72 hour waiting period to all firearms. In addition, it will eliminate the current waiting period exemption for nonresidents attending gun shows in Illinois. Current Illinois law requires a 72 hour waiting period for handguns and a 24 hour waiting period for long guns. Waiting periods are an archaic relic from before the digital age, since they were originally meant to give local law enforcement time to complete background checks. Since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) came into operation in 1998, technology has allowed background checks to be done instantly, activating the law that eliminated the federally required waiting periods.
Both bill passed earlier in the session by veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly.
Obviously, increasing the waiting period to three days does nothing to prevent crime. Not only that, but they actually hurt domestic violence victims, forcing them to wait to acquire the best means of protection. After all, court orders don’t stop bullets.
While “cooling off period” makes for a good soundbite, it makes for poor public policy on self-defense. Even more so for folks with a carry license. If Land of Lincoln politicians thought the waiting period served as a cooling off period, they would have no problem exempting concealed carry licensees. Or anyone trading one gun for another at a dealer.
Instead, gun control activists see this as a way to make gun ownership more difficult. Sort of like how racist politicians in the 1950s would place voting stations at distant or inconvenient places in poor, minority neighborhoods.
Early on, the Illinois State Rifle Association’s Executive Director nicknamed HB-2354’s predecessor bill the “Snitch Bill”. That bill would have allowed courts to consider anonymous complaints against gun owners, and potentially exposing us to having our gun rights revoked, at least temporarily, without due process.
The National Rifle Association, as well as the Illinois State Rifle Association and Guns Save Life fought tooth and nail to oppose that bill. Thankfully, that bill died after gun owners educated their elected officials.
Soon enough, HB-2354 rolled onto the scene. As Guns Save Life’s executive director, I work closely with the NRA-ILA’s people here in Illinois. We both maintained opposition to the bill for our respective organizations, citing due process issues.
Frankly, on several occasions in the past year, we have had judges speak at our Guns Save Life monthly meetings. Sometimes, I would ask the about abuses in our existing Illinois protective order law. One family court judge at the Chicagoland meeting freely shared how commonly family law attorneys use an Order of Protection as a bargaining chips in child custody and divorce proceedings. Another judge estimated that as many as one third of the petitions he sees seem suspect at best.
For me, I’ve seen this personally with a couple of friends who had their lives turned upside down after estranged spouses received plenary protective orders against them. These temporary orders invalidated these good men’s firearms owner ID cards, forcing them to divest themselves of their guns and ammo immediately. In both cases, a judge later restored their rights. About two weeks afterwards.
Not only that, but the mere issuance of the order in their past followed them. Illinois law requires concealed carry instructors to receive and maintain their carry license with few exceptions. One of the instructors on the GSL Defense Training team had his Illinois State Police instructor certification pulled after he could not get his carry license in a timely manner.
Why couldn’t he get his license? Because his estranged wife received a temporary restraining order a couple of years earlier based upon unsubstantiated allegations. A judge vacated the Order of Protection ten days after issuance, but his local police department filed an objection to his carry license application based solely upon that baseless complaint. And the Illinois State Police refused to issue him a carry license.
Thirty thousand dollars in legal fees and eighteen months later, he got his carry license. Most of us complain about the $153 fee Illinois charges for a carry license. Few, myself included, could afford $30,153.
Just as with the earlier “red flag” bill, Guns Save Life worked side-by-side with the NRA to fight HB-2354. We put a lot of resources and energy into fighting the measure. It turns out, not everyone on the pro-gun side was fighting with us.
At least one gun rights group now claims involvement in crafting the later versions of the onerous bill. Illinois Carry, an online discussion forum, revealed publicly last week how they worked closely with Democrats to fashion this bill.
Illinois Carry’s spokewoman Valinda Rowe posted this on Illinois Carry last Friday.
HB2354 Update – Firearm Restraining Order – Emergency Intervention
We have been in conversation about this bill with some of the most knowledgeable Second Amendment attorneys and 2A experts in the nation. In their opinion this is one of, if not the best bills of its kind.
We started out with HB772 Lethal Violence Order of Protection which was an outrageous gun grab bill. We all fought with everything we had to defeat that version and then went on to fight to amend this version. At times it felt like a knockdown, drag out fight in the ring, at other times it was more like peace negotiations in the middle east – never easy. Nonetheless, we were able to change this monstrosity around and now the experts are telling us this bill is now more of an Emergency Intervention bill that addresses more of the real problems of mentally ill who are a danger, domestic abusers who are a danger, and those threatening terrorist acts. This bill could possibly set a new standard by which these emergency situations can be deescalated and lives saved, referring to the Waffle House, Parkland High School, and the like.
The attorneys seem to think the bill meets due process and constitutional muster because the order is not final until the firearm owner has their day in court, which must happen quickly.
What makes this bill exceptional compared to the gun grab bills:
1. The requirement for clear and convincing evidence is a high bar to provide and is one of the highest standards in the country.
2. The order is not final until the person has their day in court and that must happen within 14 days. This could even happen as early as that day or the next.
3. Ownership is not prohibited and the firearms can be transferred to someone the person trusts for safekeeping.
4. Property is returned without need to petition the court.
5. If the clear and convincing evidence of being a danger is indicative of a mental illness, the judge can issue an order for a mental health evaluation.
6. If the clear and convincing evidence of being a danger is indicative of a criminal act/terrorism, charges can be filed and an arrest warrant can be issued at the same time.
7. In the meantime, the firearms are removed from the scene and taken into safe keeping until the orders are dismissed or expire.
8. FOID/CCL could be suspended instead of revoked (if there are no additional circumstances that would make the person ineligible for a FOID/CCL). These would then be reinstated when the order is dismissed or expires. If you have been following the nightmare we have with FOID/CCL appeals, you know this is a HUGE win.
9. The penalty for false testimony is a felony and is another deterrent for abusing the process.
There are a few tweaks we would like to see and the sponsors have agreed to a trailer bill. We know trailer bills do not always happen but the major issues we fought for are in this bill. It’s better than Indiana, better even than Florida’s, in my opinion.
Where we are now – If the Gov. signs the bill as is, with the current promise for a trailer bill from the sponsors, we get a reasonable Emergency Intervention bill now with the little fixes to come in the new session.
If the Gov. vetoes or amendatory vetoes the bill, the risk is real that the whole bill will be lost and we lose all the hard work we put into getting amendments in this bill and would have to start over. In the meantime, heaven forbid if there is another killing (or worse, one in IL) – the hysteria would then drive the legislative language and it would be impossible to hold it back. If that happens, most legislators will be afraid to not support a bad bill for fear of appearing uncaring to the victims and their families.
I think most of us are very concerned about abuse of the process because we’ve seen what happens with regular orders of protection. In the next legislative session, I would like to see us take that issue on and increase the level of evidence for an OP to match this bill’s requirement for clear and convincing evidence before an order of protection can be issued.
Unlike most all proposed bills we see, this one actually addresses an issue that needs to be addressed. During the many years my husband and I were terrorized by a mentally ill family member, had this been law, it would have been a great help to us. We can identify with potential victims and we see the real world need for an emergency intervention bill like this.
How closely did Illinois Carry’s spokeswoman Valinda Rowe and her husband Mike work to help craft this bill and to help get it passed? Closely enough that they received an invite to appear at the signing ceremony.
That would be Valinda Rowe on the far right of this photo posted by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence on their Facebook page. Her husband Mike is the first male face you see on the right. Of course, as a gun control group, ICHV had nothing but rave reviews for the new gun control facing Illinois gun owners.
Above is another photo of Mrs. Rowe from the 2015 Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day event.
And once Governor Rauner signed the bill, Valinda Rowe posted this, also at Illinois Carry:
Governor Commits to Veto Gun Dealer Licensing Bill!
Signs Emergency Intervention Bill and 72-Hr. Waiting Period
IllinoisCarry would like to thank Governor Rauner for announcing at a press conference in Chicago today that he will veto SB337, the gun dealer licensing bill. The bill was passed by both House and Senate during the spring legislative session but has not been sent to the Governor’s desk yet. It is good to know that when it is sent, it will be dead on arrival!!
The Governor signed HB2354. The new law provides for emergency intervention when someone is threatening to commit suicide,or a school shooting, work place violence, etc.
We in the firearms community strongly feel someone who is a danger to themselves or others should not be in possession of firearms. We know how important emergency intervention is when someone is posing a danger to themselves or others. However, we also hold strong to the fact that Second Amendment Constitutional rights must also be protected. The Second Amendment community worked long and hard to insure those protections are in this bill…
For the record, Valinda Rowe’s “Second Amendment community” did not include Guns Save Life. It didn’t include the leaders in the gun rights fight in Illinois, the National Rifle Association, either.
Perhaps her claims of “the Second Amendment community” spurred the bold emphasis in the original NRA-ILA announcement.
NRA opposed these bills during the legislative process because they will allow Second Amendment rights to be revoked without due process and expand waiting periods.
As Guns Save Life’s executive director, I’m not going to allow another group to claim GSL had any part in this crafting or supporting this deeply flawed gun control measure. And the NRA has made it clear in their announcement that the feel the same way. Interestingly, ISRA’s lobbyist Eddie Sullivan was also present at the signing and in the photo (far right, second group photo.)
So what now?
Illinois residents find themselves stuck with these two bills. Effective January 1, 2019, we will wait three days to pick up all gun purchases, or to conduct private transfers as our state law requires. Yes, we know it does nothing to solve gang violence while inconveniencing the good guys. But just like African-Americans during the civil rights era, we will walk a little father to cast our vote. We will not let bigots deprive us of our rights.
And now, as of the new year, we will have to deal with abuses in the new Lethal Violence Order of Protection bill. My advice for Illinois residents: Consider a legal insurance program like US Law Shield that will provide legal representation should you find yourself on the wrong end of one of these emergency petitions. Anyone related to or had an intimate relationship with a gun owner could possibly file one of these orders of protection.
Frankly, that goes for any one living in any of the 13 states that have one of these Red Flag laws. Other deep blue states like New York will probably see this legislation soon as well.
That’s right: thirteen states have these laws and according to Bloomberg’s “The Trace”, three more have them under consideration.
Frankly, if you don’t have an attorney and fight that emergency Order of Protection petition, it will likely become a permanent revocation of your right to own, buy or use firearms.