Gun Control Group Backs Down On FOID Fingerprinting

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

For Illinois residents, it really looked like they were going to have to endure fingerprinting on top of all the other indignities required in groveling to the state for permission to buy a gun. Honestly, requiring the FOID card was bad enough, but fingerprinting prospective gun buyers as if they were criminals was ridiculous.

Of course, there was a reason for the push. It wasn’t all that long ago that a workplace shooting took place by someone who had both a FOID card and a felony conviction. That precipitated calls for fingerprinting, but those proponents failed to note that the shooter didn’t use a fake name. It wasn’t that he outwitted the system, it’s that the system didn’t do what we’ve been told it was supposed to do.

And, since this was Illinois, we figured fingerprinting was going to happen.

However, it seems there’s some good news on that front. A gun control group is backing off on fingerprinting.

A key gun safety group that’s spent the last few years pushing for mandatory fingerprinting for all Illinois gun owners is backing an alternative measure — without mandatory fingerprinting — ahead of a vote on that legislation in the Illinois House Wednesday.

In the final days of the General Assembly’s regularly scheduled spring legislative session last month, Democrats in the House and Senate passed competing bills aimed at fixing Illinois’ backlog of Firearm Owner Identification Card and Concealed Carry License applications — an issue gun rights groups have sued over in both state and federal court.

While GPAC (Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee) Illinois had been backing the House Democrats’ version that included mandatory fingerprinting, moderate Democrats in the Senate are refusing to take up the legislation, and GPAC has changed course, endorsing the Senate’s version of the bill.

The House sponsor of that legislation, State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) confirmed to NPR Illinois this week that he’d be calling the bill for a vote on Wednesday as lawmakers returned to Springfield to complete unfinished business from the legislature’s spring session.

This will also provide cover from Democrats who wanted the toned-down bill but still wanted to keep their gun control bonafides intact.

Understand, this isn’t GPAC changing their ways, either.

GPAC President Kathleen Sances told NPR Illinois that she didn’t want to walk away from legislation that still has a lot that appeals to gun violence prevention advocates.

“I wanted mandatory fingerprint,” Sances said, outlining outreach efforts by her group to lawmakers advocating for the position. “I mean, GPAC led the effort for over three years to get a mandatory fingerprint.”

But despite what Sances estimated at 33,000 contacts to legislators facilitated by her group, she said she understands political reality and emphasized that other elements of the legislation are worth pushing for, despite not getting mandatory fingerprinting. Those other elements include mandating universal background checks for person-to-person gun sales and millions of dollars for communities impacted by gun violence.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. While Illinois isn’t likely to become a pro-gun state anytime soon, the fact that the gun control crowd couldn’t get this through means that is a pathway forward toward stopping the pernicious spread of gun control in the Land of Lincoln.

Especially since it only takes a quick look at Chicago to see just how horribly their current scheme is working.

Yes, this is a small thing–there’s nothing GPAC wants that I could remotely support, after all–but it’s still a victory. What matters now is trying to examine that win and see just how we can build upon that victory for still more. If we can somehow keep winning in Illinois, then is there anywhere we couldn’t win?