CHICAGO (CBS) — It has been nearly five months since the Illinois State Police promised to make sure gun owners who have had their Firearm Owners Identification cards revoked actually turn in their weapons.
State police made the promise in the wake of a workplace shooting in Aurora in February that left five people dead. The gunman – Gary Martin, 45 – had a firearm despite a previous felony conviction.
CBS 2’s Megan Hickey is always investigating, and on Wednesday, she was asking if the new state police system is actually working.
On Feb. 15, Martin opened fire at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora – killing five of his coworkers and injuring five officers.
He did it all with a Smith & Wesson handgun that he should have turned over to police years ago, when a previous felony conviction was discovered.
Martin did receive a revocation letter, but he ignored it. That came as no surprise to law enforcement across the state.
“To think that it’s somehow been an oversight; that people just didn’t figure this out – please. Grow up,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Dart said there has been no enforcement of the system at all.
“The system is the honor system – literally that’s it,” he said. “There’s nothing else.”
On March 6, Illinois State Police stepped in with a statement vowing to help close the gaps in the system by improving information sharing and enhancing enforcement.
Now, months after Martin’s victims have been laid to rest, CBS 2 wanted to know if the overhaul actually worked.
The numbers paint a disappointing picture.
CBS 2 requested the number of revoked FOID cards that were actually returned since the announcement, and the numbers are nearly identical to the same period last year.
The data showed there were 1,005 FOID cards revoked between March 6 and June 30 of 2018, and 1,002 revoked between March 6 and June 30 of this year.
CBS 2 asked Director Brendan Kelly of the Illinois State Police to explain.
“We’re gradually seeing an increase in action being taken,” Kelly said.
Kelly admitted that there had been problems in the past.
“It wasn’t a big secret – I think everyone knew that there were tremendous gaps in the system,” he said.
he further admitted that the numbers aren’t very compelling but said they do not tell the whole story – including a massive jump in access to information on a web portal that 600 law enforcement agencies have now signed up to use.
He added that a proposal for additional manpower didn’t pass in the legislature this year. But Kelly says a bill like that would help.
“I think with additional head count, we’ll see more accurate amount of review occurring but I think those data; numbers are going to go up and down depending on what’s coming into the system,” he said. “The number of revocations is not the key factor.
Another bill that would have required FOID card applicants to submit fingerprints also failed to pass this year. Police say a fingerprint requirement would have stopped Martin from ever getting a FOID card in the first place.