* An April 26, 2018 Sun-Times editorial…
This week, Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson reported that Chicago police routinely fail to notify the Illinois State Police when they recover a firearm from someone who is a “clear and present danger” to themselves or the public. State law requires such notification within 24 hours.
With that information, the state police could then revoke that person’s FOID — Firearm Owner’s Identification — card because of mental unfitness.
Yet in 37 cases that Ferguson sampled in the last 3 ½ years, that notification never happened.
It’s scary to think that after officers transported someone who had a gun to a mental health facility, as happened in those 37 instances, they failed to take every step possible — and as required by law — to make sure that person’s gun was confiscated and not returned. It’s even scarier to contemplate, given how routinely the police encounter unstable individuals, the hundreds of other times when officers, knowingly or not, have no doubt ignored the law.
To their credit, the Chicago Police Department has responded quickly to Ferguson’s findings, updating orders to clarify when and what officers must do to enforce the mandate. But CPD has not been the only broken link. State police also have fallen short.
We reported back in 2015 that state police were largely ignoring a law requiring that they track guns owned by thousands of people whose FOID cards had been revoked for mental health reasons. A Chicago Tribune report in February 2017 found things hadn’t changed much: State police revoked more than 11,000 FOID cards the previous year, but rarely took guns away as a result.
Fixing this problem needs to be a top priority of the incoming Pritzker administration. And whomever is nominated to run the Illinois State Police needs to be pressed hard on this issue during the Senate confirmation process.