Sheriff Tom Dart: Crack down on FOID card violators
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter January 31, 2013 4:51PM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart discussed gun control legislation he is proposing, aimed at reforming and strengthening the enforcement provisions of the stateâs Firearm Ownerâs Identification Card (FOID) system Thursday, January 31, 2013. He displayed guns and FOID cards that were recently confiscated. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: January 31, 2013 5:26PM
Sheriff Tom Dart proposed new gun legislation Thursday that would in part give a specialized unit the authority to — without a warrant — search homes of people prohibited from buying firearms because of a gun or gang-related conviction.
The Prohibited Persons’ Enforcement Act also would require the same people in Illinois just 48 hours to return an expired Firearms Owner’s Identification card and account for their firearms. If not, he wants the authority to seize their weapons.
Currently, Cook County Sheriff’s officers don’t have the authority to take guns from convicted felons or people who can’t buy guns because of a serious mental illness, unless the person is on parole and someone from the Department of Corrections is on patrol with officers.
“Right now, you couldn’t think of a more preposterous system if you dreamed it up. Honest to God,” Dart said. “When you think you have your card revoked because of a criminal conviction or because of mental health, you are supposed to mail it in and if you don’t mail it in, nothing happens. No one comes looking for you. No one is coming to your door. Nothing.”
There are about 5,000 current FOID card holders who have had their card revoked in Cook County alone, according to the sheriff’s office. Just 20 percent of those people have turned their cards into Illinois State Police, which runs the FOID system. Of the 4,000 who didn’t return the card, 870 were revoked for mental health reasons and 804 were revoked because of the issuance of an order of protection.
Dart said a unit went to more than a dozen south suburban homes in recent weeks and found several convicted felons with guns in their homes.
“When it’s people that are not on parole, the ability to enter their house without a warrant would be huge,” Dart said. “And once again, it’s not because we randomly are picking citizens to kick in doors. These are people we have identified as people convicted of carrying guns illegally that we need to keep an eye on.”
The act, which Dart said could be introduced to the Illinois General Assembly as soon as this week, would also require all mental health providers to report people who pose a risk to themselves or others. Current law only requires state hospitals and mental health facilities report patients who pose a risk. Dart said making sure all mental health facilities, including private ones, report will “completely close that loophole.”
The act also calls for extending the terms of mandatory supervised release to 10 years for felons and street gang members convicted of possessing firearms. Current law carries a three-year term.