Well it’s the end of my first Spring Session in Springfield. Chicago Democrats are poised to increase a variety of taxes along partisan lines. Deals are being struck on the remaining controversial issues that have withered from non-action all Spring to be hurriedly addressed in a few days before the big deadline of June 1st. Always a recipe for good legislation benefiting the people, right?!
Out pops Senate Bill 1966, an omnibus bill aimed at addressing “public safety” through “common-sense” gun control. This is a terrible bill. Included in the omnibus bill is a requirement Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) Card renewals occur twice as often (from every ten to every five years), a doubling of the renewal fee and mandatory fingerprinting. These are all seemingly “common-sense” reforms until you actually think about the Constitutional and practical consequences of these proposals.
First, the Second Amendment provides a Constitutional Right to bear arms. The highest court in our land has continually upheld this is an individual right and has completely overturned all attempts at infringement on this Right. Illinois is one of the only states that requires additional licensure of firearm owners. This is in addition to a federal waiting period, and federally mandated background checks at the point of purchase. By law, FOID card applications and renewals are required to be processed by the Illinois State Police (ISP) within 90 days. Due to a variety of circumstances, internal and external, the ISP does not uphold this statutory requirement. So systemic is this delay that the legislature has had to pass additional legislation extending a grace period for those who applied for renewal and through no fault of their own, had their application lapse. Asking taxpayers to go through this process twice as often seems like a sure recipe for further dysfunction. Throwing more money at a broken system is seldom a sound good government policy.
Now, let’s talk about fingerprinting. Seems reasonable enough at face value. “Help them solve crimes”, right?! However, think about how much data that puts the in the government’s possession. After the tragic shooting in Aurora, the Illinois State Police released the total numbers of active FOID cards in each County. I represent all or parts of Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Winnebago, Ogle, Carroll and Whiteside Counties. These counties have an aggregate population of about 473,000. According to ISP’s own numbers, over 110,000 of those citizens are active lawful FOID card holders. That means around 1 in 4. Mandatory fingerprinting would mean that the State Police would be in possession of fingerprints for ¼ of law-abiding citizens in the counties I represent. Now we get into potential 4th and 5th Amendment Constitutional Violations. Citizens did not agree to concede their 4th and 5th Amendment Rights, simply by attempting to comply with this Constitutionally murky requirement of a FOID card.
You know, liberals used to care about civil liberties. They used to work to legally protect Constitutional Rights by funding and litigating issues of civil liberties through organizations like the ACLU. While I do not agree with the ACLU on many issues, there is no question they fight against encroachments of personal civil liberties and have traditionally been funded by liberal-leaning donors. Now, the progressive wing of the Democrat Party has pushed out the traditional liberals and the Constitution is now viewed as the enemy instead of our shield against tyranny.
The Chief Sponsor of this Senate Bill in the Illinois House, shockingly, said in committee that she would support fingerprinting the general population, “if it makes the state safer.” Remember what Thomas Jefferson said, “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
In this era of ever-increasing attacks on civil liberties, it is easy to cast off these concerns as, “dystopian conspiracy theories,” or that these bills want to disarm the population for mal intent. However, it should be concerning to ALL Illinoisans that proponents of these laws are after the shield (Constitutional Rights) and the spear (guns) against tyranny. We must not give up the legislative fight and must resort to the third co-equal branch when two branches have failed in their Constitutional duties. Expect this all to end up in the courts if ever enacted into law in Illinois.
If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach Sally or me at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at repchesney.com.