Responding to growing questions in the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting at a factory in Aurora, the Illinois State Police released data Thursday evening which paints a shocking picture of the system for firearm regulation in Illinois.
Earlier this week, state regulators admitted they failed to detect a Mississippi felony conviction which should have disqualified gunman Gary Martin from possessing a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card in Illinois. But the new data shows that only a handful of such violators are ever investigated or prosecuted.
In a news release, the Illinois State Police blamed authorities in Mississippi for failing to link Martin’s criminal history with a so-called “state identification number” (SID). That failure reportedly prevented detection of a conviction from the nineties for aggravated assault for which he served five years in prison.
But the ISP numbers also illustrate that efforts to revoke gun privileges for felons in Illinois are almost laughably inept. In 2018, the state revoked FOID cards for 10,818 individuals. All were to surrender their gun cards, and fill out a form explaining how they would dispose of their weapons. But the agency admitted that of those over 10,000 invalid license holders, only 2,616 filled out the forms, and only 3,469 FOID cards were ever turned in.
“More than 75% of FOID card revocations failed to result in a Firearm Disposition Record being returned,” the ISP said. “From 2014 through 2019, there have only been a total of 110 arrests for violation (of the statute).”
Previously the state admitted they were virtually powerless to pursue those who defy the law. The numbers indicate that of the 7,531 individuals who had FOID cards revoked and failed to respond, less than .004% were arrested or convicted.
Martin’s felony conviction was eventually detected when he applied for a concealed carry permit in 2014. The State Police admitted that even though their procedure at the time was to submit an electronic message to local law enforcement notifying them that his FOID privileges were being revoked, there is no evidence that message was ever transmitted.
Martin killed five co-workers and shot five police officers, after he was terminated by his employer last Friday afternoon.