Two new state laws concerning firearm owner’s identification cards grew out of the aftermath of the April killings of 32 students at Virginia Tech university.

Two new state laws concerning firearm owner’s identification cards grew out of the aftermath of the April killings of 32 students at Virginia Tech university.



One also will extend the valid period of FOID cards from five to 10 years and increase the cost from $5 to $10. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed both bills in recent days.



Senate Bill 940 will require hospitals and mental health facilities to report the names of anyone who receives inpatient or outpatient mental health treatment to the Illinois State Police, which conducts background checks on applicants for FOID cards. It also would require police to submit the names of anyone prohibited from owning a firearm to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.



“The lessons we learned as a nation from the Virginia Tech tragedy are still very fresh in our minds,” Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a news release. “We must do what we can to prevent future tragedies and make sure guns are kept out of the hands of individuals who could pose a threat to the public.”



Under the new law, hospitals and mental health facilities would only have to submit the names of patients whose behavior “poses a clear and present or imminent danger to the patient, any other person or the community.”



At present, only the names of persons admitted to private hospitals are submitted to the state police. The new law will take effect June 1, 2008. It was sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Mount Prospect, and Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago.



Senate Bill 1094, sponsored by Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, and Rep. Dan Reitz, D-Steeleville, requires circuit clerks to report the names of anyone found to be mentally defective by a court to state police. That information could then be used to deny an FOID application.



The legislation describes mentally defective as someone who is a danger to himself or others, lacks the mental capacity to manage his own affairs, has been found not guilty of a crime because of insanity or other mental condition or has been declared incompetent to stand trial.



“After much debate and controversy over the last couple of years, gun rights supporters and legislators have come to a compromise we all can live with,” Koehler said in a prepared statement.



Koehler has said the new law will close the same loophole in Illinois statutes that allowed the mentally ill gunman at Virginia Tech to buy a gun there.



The 10-year valid period for FOID cards, which falls under SB1094, is aimed at reducing the backlog by state police in processing applications. The new $10 fee for FOID cards will be distributed to the Wildlife and Fish Fund ($6), the Firearm Owner’s Notification Fund ($3) and the State Police Services Fund ($1).


That law will take effect Jan. 1.


 


Dana Heupel can be reached at (217) 788-1518 or dana.heupel@sj-r.com.