(The Center Square) – A measure now up to the governor that proponents have said will modernize the state’s system for issuing Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards, Concealed Carry License and firearm transfers worries opponents.
Last month, after the House passed House Bill 562, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said the measure will help address serious problems.
“We have gun violence all over the state,” Welch said. “We have gun violence all over the country. I think gun violence should be treated like an epidemic just like the global pandemic. It’s real. It’s a problem.”
The measure doesn’t increase penalties for those committing crimes with illegal guns. It includes provisions that trouble state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield.
“Combining a CCL and a FOID card I think is a smart idea, and some of this other stuff,” Butler told WMAY last month. “But at the end of the day for me, I don’t care if it’s voluntary, because I think eventually, talk about slippery slopes, it starts off voluntary and all of a sudden becomes mandatory, giving your fingerprints to exercise a constitutional right is a real infringement in my mind.”
There were competing bills the legislature considered. One that passed the House would have made fingerprints for a FOID card mandatory. That measure did not get called for a vote in the Senate. The Senate amended HB562 and passed it to the House where the House concurred with the bill.
Supporters of the legislation from both sides of the aisle say the measure will streamline the FOID and CCL application process to help cut down on the persistent backlog.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, doesn’t think the measure will take away the problems of backlogged FOID card applications where people have been waiting months more than the legal limit.
He also had problems with other aspects of the bill.
“Private transfers, working through [a Federal Firearms Licensee], now tasking them with keeping those records for 20 years, cap the fee that they can charge at $25, I just think that creates a whole list of problems,” Halbrook said. “Potentially sets up a gun registry which is really troubling to a lot of us.”