House Bill 2795 is supposed to help prevent veteran suicides. The ISRA has jumped behind a provision in the bill to allow veterans “in crisis” to take their guns to an FFL for storage. The only problem is, the veteran will need to get an approval from ISP (as part of a firearm transfer) before the guns can be returned.
Now, if a veteran has a “crisis” and seeks any mental health treatment at all related to it, that will almost always trigger a suspension of his or her FOID card. And that veteran, who took his or her guns to an FFL for safekeeping has just effectively lost those guns. How so? Because have you seen the hoops ISP makes a person jump through to restore their firearm rights after they have received crisis mental health treatment?
Here it is, right from the ISP website:
If your Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card was revoked or your FOID application denied because more than five years ago you were a patient of a mental health facility, or met the definition of clear and present danger as provided in Section 1.1 of the FOID Act (430 ILCS 65/1.1), and you have not previously had your firearm possession rights restored, you are not permitted to obtain a FOID Card unless your firearms rights are restored. To restore your firearms rights, you must receive a mental health evaluation by an Illinois licensed physician, clinical psychologist, or qualified examiner as those terms are defined in the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (405 ILCS 5/1-122), and a certification that you are not a clear and present danger to yourself or others.
If it’s less than five years after the mental health admission, it takes extraordinary measures to obtain relief. Oh, by the way, good luck finding a licensed physician, clinical psychologist or qualified examiner willing to sign off on a certification that you are not a clear and present danger to yourself or others. They are very few and very far between.
If your physician or clinical psychologist reviews the documentation regarding your prior hospitalization, assesses your current mental health status, and agrees you meet the conditions set forth in the form, they can complete the Mental Health Certification form, available at:
Mental Health Certification form
Please note, this form must be returned directly to the Illinois State Police by the examiner and may not be sent by you.
Upon receipt of a properly completed Mental Health Certification form, your application will be reviewed and you will be notified once the decision has been made or if additional information is needed.
Relevant Checklists and Forms
Firearms Prohibitor – Mental Health Admission More Than 5 Years Requirements Checklist
Firearm Disposition Record Form
Mental Health Certification form
Note that it wants the evaluator to review all of the mental health history information supplied by the applicant and others (difficult to obtain) and only then perform the evaluation.
I can’t tell you how many people (including a couple I know personally) who struggled to jump through this process. For the ones that didn’t just give up or couldn’t afford a thousand-plus dollars for the evaluation alone, it becomes a very expensive year-long process.
ISRA behind a BIG bear trap?
And now the ISRA wants its members to help set out a big bear trap for veterans across our state. There’s a reason the anti-gun Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit is a chief co-sponsor to the bill…
Is the ISRA wanting a seat at another table? If you recall, during the “negotiations” that gave us the FOID Modernization fiasco, the ISRA’s leadership repeatedly told people that… well, I’ll share what they sent to members who wrote to complain:
The problem is you have not been told everything about the situation.
What people don’t understand is the Governor handed down an edict to the Democratic caucus. He was concerned that it appeared his administration wasn’t doing anything to stop the horrific violent crime rate in Illinois and most notably in Cook County & Chicago. He demanded that they pass either HB1091 or HB562 – one or the other without fail. We knew early on that one of those two bills was going to get passed and the Republicans don’t have enough votes to stop it.
The ISRA is a one issue organization, and we base our decisions on what is most appropriate in the long run. Our decisions are not based on animosity toward any group or individual but rather what is in the best interest of the Second Amendment rights of all Illinois firearm owners.
Given the political climate surrounding HB1091 and HB562 it was clear a decision had to be made on what would be the best course of action. Those who believe the ISRA should “draw a line in the sand” and say “no” to both bills, have no understanding of the mission of the ISRA – to foster the best possible environment for Illinois firearm owners. Taking a hardline and rejecting both bills simply means the anti-Second Amendment backers of those bills will do whatever they want and the ISRA will not have a seat at the table to try to get the most onerous elements of a bill removed and we did manage to accomplish a few good things.
Representative Denyse Stoneback (D-16th District), a cosponsor of HB1091, was adamant about three onerous provisions:
- It would require mandatory fingerprinting,
- There would be an unspecified increase in the cost though rough calculations based on other aspects of the bill, it put the cost of a new FOID card at about $75, and
- Applicants would be required to go to a police station to apply.
Other particularly undesirable aspects to HB1091 included the “clear and present danger” aspect expanded to include “any act” intended to cause or create a risk… It was dangerously vague with significant negative implications for Illinois firearm owners.
The bill would also ban the private sale of firearms with all transactions required to go through an FFL. There were no positive aspects to HB1091 and the ISRA took a negative position on the bill.
The controversy alleging the ISRA’s lack of support for Illinois firearm owners was focused on our neutral position on HB562. It was a very carefully considered position and it requires an understanding of the bill’s contents and the ISRA’s long term strategy.
One of the most naïve criticisms came from those individuals who either opined that there was no such thing as “backroom deals” or those who thought there should never be any kind of “backroom deals;” everything should be discussed publicly.
Otto von Bismarck, former chancellor of Germany, wrote, “The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they’ll sleep at night.” Backroom deals are as old as government itself and an intrinsic thread in the fabric of law making. Backroom deals are essential when you are not the dominant party. Look at the positive points in HB562.
First, let us be clear, the ISRA objects to the very concept of a FOID card. The Second Amendment guarantees it is the right of the people to keep and bear arms, period. No FOID cards, no de facto poll tax, nothing that stands between law abiding citizens and acquiring and keeping firearms.
The fact is in Illinois we have such impediments and the ISRA’s long term strategy is to have the FOID card declared unconstitutional, but you do not just flip a switch and it goes away. So, the short-term strategy is to do whatever is possible to reduce the negative impact on Illinois firearm owners while implementing a strategy for the ultimate removal of the FOID card which brings us to HB562.
Literally hundreds of hours and many meetings were held discussing over a hundred different parts and combinations. In the end, those discussions produced a bill that had several positive elements.
The FOID card would automatically renew simultaneously with the CCL renewal.
Ultimately the FOID expiration would be eliminated.
The FOID and CCL would be consolidated into one card.
Ultimately an electronic version of the FOID/CCL would be developed.
A public defender would be added to the appeals board.
The change of address requirement would be eliminated.
No increase in the FOID fee.
There were a few other positive aspects but there were also a host of negative aspects the ISRA objected to:
Voluntary fingerprinting, changed from mandatory initially, but still objected to by the ISRA because fingerprinting should not be required to exercise a constitutional right.
It allowed for supervision and expungement of misdemeanor offenses if a person failed to identify where the transfer records were maintained by an FFL.
Person to person firearm transfer could either include a NICS at an FFL or through the person-to-person transfer using ISP FOID verification but also included the buyer providing a record of the transfer to an FFL within 10 days.
The seller of a firearm must save the record for 10 years.
A key aspect of items 3 & 4 is the effective date is January 1, 2024. Last year the ISRA filed a depravation of rights lawsuit in federal court over the FOID card. We began with four plaintiffs and within a month all four received their FOID cards in the mail. Clever trick but short sighted. It is a tactic frowned upon by the court and is not likely to work again. The litigation to eliminate the FOID card continues with new plaintiffs and with a far more friendly SCOTUS it is anticipated that the FOID card may very well be found unconstitutional prior to the implementation of HB562’s provision for person-to-person firearm transfers.
Well, January 1, 2024 is fast approaching (and July 1, 2023 if we’re unsuccessful in getting injunctive relief to block the Illinois Firearms Ban Act passed into law in January of this year. The Firearm Ban Act had a provision that moved the effective date of mandatory gun registration from Jan. 2024 to July 2023.
Given that either HB1091 or HB562 was going to be implemented, the ISRA took the position of objecting to HB1091 and remaining neutral on HB562. We did not want to endorse a bill that was overall anti-Second Amendment, yet we did not want to come out against it which might have increased public sentiment to stop HB562 and as a result see HB1091 approved. Clearly HB562 is the better of the choices and ISRA will continue with litigation to end the FOID card. Having said that, if the litigation is unsuccessful, HB562 will be far better to live with than HB1091.
What would you have had us do differently? If we objected to HB562 you’d have the far more unfriendly HB1091 now. Remember, it was definite that it would be one or the other and no way to stop it.
Also, from the June 17, 2021 Thursday Notes:
HB 562 has passed both chambers. Yesterday, Wednesday June 16, HB 562 passed the Illinois House 75-40-1. The ISRA was neutral on this bill. There were two bills in the General Assembly, HB 562 and HB 1091. HB 562 wasn’t perfect, nothing in the General Assembly ever is. HB 1091 was absolutely terrible. Here are the links to the analysis of both bills: HB 562; HB 1091. Gun owners need to hear the truth and the truth is we were going to get one of these bills. I know many of you think we can just say “No”, but that isn’t how it works in real life and the Illinois General Assembly in particular.
The fact is that there are some good things in HB 562. The worst part of HB 562 is the private transfer provisions. That part of HB 562 does not go into effect until January 1, 2024. There is time to work on that section. If you listened to the closing remarks of Representative Denyse Stoneback in the Judiciary Committee hearing, she told everyone where the anti-gunners want to go, which includes mandatory fingerprints for FOID cards, increased fees on FOID cards, and only be able to apply for a FOID card at a police station. HB 1091 gave the anti-gun side two out of their three goals. HB 1091 had to be stopped. HB 562 stopped HB 1091.
Like it or not, the FOID card system is the law of the land. There are thousands of people waiting to get their new or renewed FOID cards. One of the short-term goals of the ISRA is to do what we can to get these FOID cards into the hands of law-abiding citizens. To not do so would make us complicit with the anti-gun side. The long term goal of the ISRA is to get rid of the FOID card.
Here’s what the ISRA sent its members a few days ago to support this HB2795 (which is currently in Rules, the committee where bills go to die):
Rep. Greg Johnson filed HB2795, which was an omnibus bill to help prevent Veteran Suicides. One provision in the bill allowed a veteran to take their firearms in a moment of crisis to a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) for safe storage. ISRA reached out to FFLs of Illinois for their perspective on this issue. Certainly, FFLs want to do anything they can to help prevent veteran suicides, but the concerns raised by the industry revolved around liability for FFLs that would participate in this cause.
ISRA researched the issue and found legislation in the Virginia Legislature that would have created a tax credit for the purchase of safe storage devices such as locks, gun vaults, and safes. The sponsor agreed to add an amendment that would create the Firearm Safety Tax Credit. This would be a $300 tax credit for the purchase of safe storage devices for Veterans who are in crisis and qualify for the provisions of the act. Specifically:
· Eligible Veterans that are in the duress of crisis who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or have expressed contemplating suicide
That right there earns you a FOID suspension on the spot. Why is the ISRA trying to facilitate veterans losing their guns?
· $300 refundable tax credit for the purchase of safe storage devices
· Up to $5,000,000 is allocated to this tax credit annually.
· Program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs
HB2795 is still being negotiated based on other parts of the proposed legislation. We encourage ISRA members to contact their legislators and ask that this bill be given consideration for a vote on the House floor.
Guns Save Life WILL NOT support HB2795. Nor will we recommend to individuals or legislators that the bill be pulled out of the Rules Committee and acted upon.
You can make your own call on whether or not you support the bill. We’re not. No way, no how.
If veterans are having a mental health crisis, they should reach out to family or trusted friends to take their guns for safekeeping.