Illinois House Democrats pass firearm omnibus bill helping domestic violence survivors

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — Illinois House Democrats approved a sweeping gun control bill Friday morning despite concerns from Republicans, the Illinois State Rifle Association, and law enforcement.

The plan could allow judges to order law enforcement to seize guns while issuing emergency orders of protection. Although, Republicans and gun advocates are worried police will take expensive guns from families.

House Democrats say the firearms should go directly to trusted law enforcement to keep domestic violence survivors and their families safe.

“We are adding penalty enhancements to the law which as disfavored by the majority party unless it suits them,” said Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis). “And we are putting additional burdens on law enforcement when they have not requested those burdens.”

Advocates from the Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Legal Action Illinois said this proposal could address loopholes in current law. They noted that many judges are currently granting firearm remedies leading to seizure of guns by law enforcement. Sponsors say this bill will clear up ambiguity so the process can happen equitably across the state. 

“The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation dramatically increases the risk of lethal outcomes, turning an already dangerous situation into a potentially fatal one,” said Rep. Kevin Olickal (D-Skokie). “As we stand here today, we must confront the sobering reality that our current gun control laws are not enough.”

Current state law allows people to transfer their weapons to another FOID card holder. The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association told representatives Tuesday that police don’t have enough storage lockers to keep a large amount of guns and they could be liable if the weapons are damaged in their care.

House Bill 676 also states that people will be required to have FOID cards in order to buy pre-packaged explosive targets like Tannerite. Anyone illegally selling or delivering Tannerite could be charged with a Class 4 felony. 

This measure could create a task force to review current and potential insurance policies for safe and legal possession of guns. The task force would be asked to provide recommendations on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of requiring gun owners to have insurance. The Illinois State Rifle Association told a House Committee Tuesday night that the Bruen decision addressed unreasonable fees.

“What do you think a liability fee would be to have liability insurance and would that be unreasonable,” asked ISRA lobbyist Ed Sullivan. “So as you move forward, should this pass and get passed into law, think about that perspective on what you might come up with in this task force.”

This bill would also expand the state’s First Time Weapon Offense Program for non-violent offenders charged with possessing weapons. Current law allows people under 21 to participate in the program, but House Bill 676 would open the program to Illinoisans of all ages charged for the first time. People currently participate in the program for 18-24 months depending on recommendations from the program administrator and State’s Attorney. The proposal would change the timeline to be 6-18 months.

Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) told Democrats he was upset Republicans were not included in negotiations on the bill. Cabello is one of the two representatives that have full-time jobs in law enforcement. The Republican stressed that Democrats forced his caucus to vote against the plan.

“For us to sit here and tell everybody that your side of the aisle or our side of the aisle is against something all the time from here on out is idiotic,” Cabello said. “When we can work together, you know what, this chamber can do some really good stuff. But until we can work together, we’re going to have these kinds of fights. You’re driving a wedge between the people of the state of Illinois and everybody else.”

“Today, we have an opportunity to strengthen protections for survivors and their families. And we have an opportunity to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous abusers,” said Rep. Maura Hirschauer (D-Batavia). “I want to thank the amazing domestic violence committee who has stood strong through this process and worked hard on this bill. We see you. Most of us in this room see you, and we stand with you.”

The legislation passed out of the House on a 70-36 vote. This plan now heads to the Senate for further consideration next week. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 19.

Rep. Maura Hirschauer (D-Batavia) hugs staff as her Democratic colleagues celebrate passage of House Bill 676 on May 12, 2023.

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May 12, 2023 at 06:34PM

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