The Illinois House Wednesday passed a bill to require the submission of fingerprints, along with higher fees in order to own, shoot or even handle a firearm or ammunition. Kathleen Willis’ Amendments to SB-1966 would also end private firearm transfers and even require immediate family members gifted a firearm to report themselves to the Illinois State Police under penalty of a felony.
The bill passed solely with Democrat votes, Democrats who claim to fight for poor, inner-city minorities. At least at election time. SB-1966, with its increased fees, has a guaranteed disparate impact upon poor people of color within the Land of Lincoln.
But just like Black Codes and Jim Crow laws a hundred years ago, this bill effectively prices the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights out of the reach of poor folks in general, and disadvantaged inner city African-Americans and Latinos in particular.
From Clayton Cramer’s The Racist Roots of Gun Control:
Today is not 1893, and when proponents of restrictive gun control insist that their motivations are color-blind, there is a possibility that they are telling the truth. Nonetheless, there are some rather interesting questions that should be asked today. The most obvious question is, “Why should a police chief or sheriff have any discretion in issuing a concealed handgun permit?” Here in California, even the state legislature’s research arm–hardly a nest of pro-gunners–has admitted that the vast majority of permits to carry concealed handguns in California are issued to white males.  Even if overt racism is not an issue, an official may simply have more empathy with an applicant of a similar cultural background, and consequently be more able to relate to the applicant’s concerns. As my wife pointedly reminded a police official when we applied for concealed weapon permits, “If more police chiefs were women, a lot more women would get permits, and be able to defend themselves from rapists.”
Gun control advocates today are not so foolish as to openly promote racist laws, and so the question might be asked what relevance the racist past of gun control laws has. One concern is that the motivations for disarming blacks in the past are really not so different from the motivations for disarming law-abiding citizens today. In the last century, the official rhetoric in support of such laws was that “they” were too violent, too untrustworthy, to be allowed weapons. Today, the same elitist rhetoric regards law-abiding Americans in the same way, as child-like creatures in need of guidance from the government. In the last century, while never openly admitted, one of the goals of disarming blacks was to make them more willing to accept various forms of economic oppression, including the sharecropping system, in which free blacks were reduced to an economic state not dramatically superior to the conditions of slavery.
Days ago, many of these same Democrats objected to voter ID in Illinois as an undue burden upon the poor. Because, they say, a lot of poor people of color don’t have government-issue photo identification. Yet Kathleen Willis’ bill requires the submission of electronic fingerprints…and that requires a state-issued photo identification to get that done.
Yet as the floor debate went on for hours, nowhere and at no time today did these Democrats express any concern for the significant numbers of poor African-Americans without some form of government-issued photo IDs. For them, this law creating an undue burden on the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights is a feature, not a bug.
The bill’s provisions
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action has a pretty good run-down on this onerous bill.
- Criminalize private transfers, with violations being punished as a Class 4 felony.
- Require the recipient of a firearm gifted by a family member to call into Illinois State Police within 60 days to run a background check on themselves, even though they must already hold a FOID.
- Allow for the indefinite delay of firearm transfers. Currently, federal law allows a licensed firearm dealer (FFL) to release a firearm after three business days if they have not received any additional correspondence after receiving a “delay” when conducting the initial background check for a firearm transfer. This safeguard prevents the potential shutdown of sales via endless delays and allows law-abiding individuals to take possession of a firearm in a timely manner.
- Mandate FOID applicants submit fingerprints, including for renewals, which would not add anything of investigative value.
- Increase FOID processing time from one calendar month to thirty business days, which can span more than six weeks.
- Reduce the duration of the FOID from ten years to five while also increasing the application fee from $10 to $20, resulting in a significant increase in the cost to maintain a FOID for the same amount of time.
- Require FOID applicants pay all costs for fingerprinting and processing the background check, totaling around $150 on top of the application fee.
- Prohibit those with a revoked FOID from transferring firearms to another FOID card holders in the same household and also take away the right to self-defense from individuals due to the alleged actions of someone else in their household.
- Require the owner of the seized firearms to petition the court to have them transferred to a third party.
As part of the gun rights community here in Illinois, I’m not sure about the costs of fingerprinting totaling $150 after Amendment #2. Yes, originally the costs would easily total over $150 per person (or $600 for a family of four just to remain legal to own guns in Illinois). $70-100 for prints + $50 application fee + $38 background check fee = about $150-200+ in the original bill. Or about $800 for a family of four.
Willis, in true Venezuelan socialist fashion, mandated the maximum fee charged for electronic fingerprinting at $30, far less than the current market rate around the state of $70-100+, depending on the provider and the location.
However, from past offers made to me as an Illinois concealed carry instructor, $30 stands as probably $10 to $15 less than LiveScan fingerprint providers must pay to the state (and the LiveScan people) when they submit a set of prints to the state. How many businesses are going to take fingerprints for a FOID card for the privilege of losing money?
[Edit: Since I originally wrote this, I’ve learned that Willis plans to allow the LiveScan providers to pass along the $38ish background check fee to the applicants instead of including it in the LiveScan fee. So once again, getting “fingerprints” in Illinois still cost about $70, they just break down the fees into categories now instead of charging a single fee.]
Not only that, but Illinois only has 109 LiveScan providers, and many of those are municipalities and school districts. Those entities will not offer prints for non-government business purposes. And I’ve heard that there are possibly as few as a dozen non-governmental LiveScan providers south of Interstate 80.
Imagine the hue and cry from Dems if there were only a dozen or two dozen places to register to vote south of I-80. For rural residents, they may face a two-plus hour drive to find a LiveScan provider and an equally long return trip home.
The $10 private transfer cap
The bill also requires all private transfers to go through a gun dealer…so-called universal background checks. Similarly, Willis capped those fees, too at $10 per firearm. That $10 is one-half to one-quarter the current going rate for firearm transfers in Honest Abe’s home state.
As FFL-Illinois president Dan Eldridge noted at TTAG last week:
I won’t willingly do a $10 transfer; it’s a money loser and an un-compensated risk to my license as an FFL.
Will the state compel all FFL’s to do these $10 transfers? They may try, but consider that a) some shops will not do transfers of any kind currently, and b) an FFL can deny any sale at any time to anyone, as long as it’s not on the basis of racial/protected class discrimination.
So…say good bye to private firearms transfers.
Indeed. Why would any business provide a service that loses money?
In short, they won’t.
The mainstream media looks favorably on the bill
As day follows night, the state’s mainstream media outlets have dutifully gotten behind the bill.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Looking to address the broken system that enabled the Aurora shooter to buy a gun and keep it — despite his criminal history — the Illinois House narrowly passed legislation Wednesday that requires residents to provide their fingerprints before obtaining a firearm license.
The measure also would create a task force to enforce laws requiring those whose gun licenses have been revoked to surrender their firearms or place them with a legal owner. And the bill would raise the application fee for the license, known as a firearm owner’s identification card, to $20 for a five-year license, up from a $10 fee for a card that was good for 10 years.
The 62-52 vote followed about three hours of heated debate on the House floor, with strong opposition mainly from suburban and downstate Republicans. One downstate lawmaker, Rep. Darren Bailey, called the bill “a total and complete infringement of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.”
Within minutes of the measure’s passage, the Illinois Rifle Association issued a statement vowing a court fight and calling it “one of the most onerous regulations for gun owners.”
As Guns Save Life’s executive director, I have high confidence we will likely either amend our current NRA-supported suit challenging the FOID Act’s constitutionality or file a new suit if this bill becomes the law of the land. Frankly, passage of this bill into law would only bolster our case Guns Save Life v. Raoul for striking down the FOID Act outright. Which would be a darned shame.
Prospects of Senate passage
Looking into my crystal ball, I see this bill passing through the Land of Lincoln’s Senate. Democrats control a super-majority there as they do in the House, but only require a simple majority for passage if done by the end of this month. The bill is scheduled for action today. That would allow some downstate Dem senators who are up for election in 2020 to cast a no vote for political cover.
And nobody expects our new governor not to sign any gun control that makes it to his desk. The only question we shall face will be what Kathleen Willis will try to pass next.
The silver lining I see is that this bill provides easy, low-hanging fruit for a court to invalidate the entire FOID Act as unconstitutional should it become law. Let’s hope so.