SPRINGFIELD -- Responding to April’s Virginia Tech massacre of 32 students by a mentally deranged gunman, the Illinois Senate Wednesday passed two bills intended to close gaps in the law meant to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

By LAURA CAMPER


STATE CAPITOL BUREAU


 


SPRINGFIELD -- Responding to April’s Virginia Tech massacre of 32 students by a mentally deranged gunman, the Illinois Senate Wednesday passed two bills intended to close gaps in the law meant to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others.


 


Senate Bill 940 and Senate Bill 1094 now go to the governor for his signature.


Under the state’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Act, people who have been admitted to a mental institution or who suffer from a mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or to others can be denied a FOID card by the Illinois State Police. However, only private hospitals are currently required to report those patients to the ISP.


 


SB940 would extend that requirement to public hospitals and mental health facilities.


 


“(This bill) allows the state police to capture that information,” said the sponsor, Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge. “This is going to work to prevent people who are a threat to themselves, to the public at large, from getting firearms.”


 


Another provision in the legislation requires that the ISP forward the names of people ineligible for FOID cards in Illinois to a national database, to keep them from getting a gun in another state.


 


“Right now, if you go to Indiana and you’re a prohibited gun buyer in Illinois, it’s not going to pop up,” Kotowski said.


 


Attorney General Lisa Madigan suggested the legislation, which passed 48-4, as a way to protect Illinoisans.


 


SB1094 adds people judged mentally defective in a court proceeding to the list of those who could be denied a FOID card. In addition, circuit clerks would be required to forward the names to the state police so they could enforce the law.


 


The gap in Illinois law is the same as one that allowed the mentally unstable Virginia Tech shooter to get a gun, said the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria.


 


“The student that did the shootings actually had been adjudicated in the court and found, the legal term I think is mental defective by federal law, but there was no requirement that that information be passed on,” Koehler said.


SB1094 passed 52-0.


 


“Both these bills complement each other very well,” Kotowski said, adding that there is an appeal process for people who think they’ve wrongly been denied a FOID card.


 


Laura Camper can be reached at (217) 782-6882 or laura.camper@sj-r.com.