New state law on FOID cards aims to stop tragedies like Henry Pratt mass shooting in Aurora
On Feb. 15, 2019, a disgruntled employee walked into the Henry Pratt Co. factory in Aurora and killed five co-workers before being fatally wounded in an intense firefight with police -- all with a gun he wasn't supposed to have.
The killer's Firearm Owner's Identification card -- required to possess a gun in Illinois -- had been revoked five years earlier because of a domestic violence conviction, but he ignored a letter from police ordering him to turn over his weapon and no one went to take it from him.
Nearly three years later, preventing a repeat of that tragedy is among the goals of state legislation, taking effect this year, to strengthen FOID laws and enhance the ability of police to take firearms away from those who've lost their right to have them.
The legislation boosts funding for revocation enforcement by giving $5 from every FOID card fee to the State Police Revocation Enforcement Fund, and it requires state police to remove guns from people with revoked FOID cards if they don't surrender them voluntarily.
It also establishes a "prohibited persons portal" to track people who have had their FOID cards revoked or suspended. Police agencies across the state will have access to that portal, which the legislation requires to be online this spring.
Among those on hand when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill in August was Abby Parks, widow of Henry Pratt shooting victim Clay Parks.
"Since Axel and I lost Clay at the Henry Pratt Co. shooting, I have worked to keep his memory and legacy alive," she said at the time. "Part of that work means addressing the fact that Clay and the four others taken that day could still be with us if illegal guns were not left in the hands of people with revoked FOID cards."
What else is in the bill
Besides increasing revocation of enforcement, the legislation expands background checks to all gun sales in Illinois starting in 2024, creates a stolen gun database and allows for free, automatic FOID renewals for gun owners who volunteer to submit fingerprints to state police.
It also creates the state police-led Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force. The group aims to use information sharing, partnerships, crime analysis and evidence-based practices to reduce shootings, homicides and gun trafficking, state police say.
"The Task Force will develop a model crime gun intelligence strategy including a comprehensive collection and documentation of all ballistic evidence, resulting in the timely dissemination of intelligence to investigators, investigative follow-up, and coordinated prosecution," state police Sgt. Delila Garcia told us in an email.
Although enforcement of FOID revocations has been an ongoing effort by state police -- the agency conducted 313 FOID enforcement details last year and brought 595 people into compliance, Garcia said -- the task force will enhance those efforts through additional information sharing and data collection.
Teen dating violence:
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
If you are a victim -- or have a child you suspect is at risk -- the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic and its student leadership board have planned a program during which you can surreptitiously get help.
"Cooking Demo to Save Lives" is set for 11 a.m. Feb. 10, via the RingCentral app, with guest chefs from Judy's Pizza of Highland Park. While a chef demonstrates dishes, participants can use the chat function to anonymously ask clinic attorneys questions.
No domestic violence content will be shown on the video, and guests can log on using an alias. No registration is required. To join the event, visit https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1489481392.
The clinic conducts cooking demonstrations the second Thursday of every month.
Judy's Pizza, at 1855 Deerfield Road, is donating 20% of its Feb. 5 sales to the clinic.
"It is critical to have honest conversations with teens about healthy versus unhealthy relationships, trust, safety, respect, consent and boundaries -- emotional, physical and digital," said Rebecca Weininger, the clinic's director of domestic violence law practice. "If we start these conversations now, we are setting the stage for healthy relationships later."
Signs someone may be in trouble include a relationship developing extremely fast, control or jealousy, changes in dress, drastic changes in behavior, isolation, constant communication with the significant other and suffering ramifications for not responding in a timely manner, according to the clinic.
For more information, call (847) 737-4042 or visit NSLegalaid.org.
DuPage specialty courts grant:
The DuPage County Circuit Court will get $568,748 from the federal government to expand its drug and veterans courts.
The money will be used to add medication-assisted treatment, develop two recovery community centers and increase use of recovery coaches and peer support specialists over the next four years.
The specialty courts are designed for people accused of nonviolent crimes. They address the root causes of substance abuse and trauma, to reduce drug-, alcohol- and mental health-related crime.
Gas-station shooting ruling:
The 2nd District Appellate Court has affirmed the conviction of Kennrith Foster for the attempted murder of his ex-wife, whom he shot in 2017 while she was working an overnight shift at a Sugar Grove gas station.
Foster had argued that he was improperly advised about waiving his right to a jury trial, that his 80-year sentence was excessive, and that he shouldn't have been convicted of aggravated battery in a place of public accommodation, since the station's office wasn't "public."
Authorities say the victim fled to the office when Foster entered the station in the early morning hours of Dec. 17, 2017. Foster followed her in and hit her, strangled her, shot her in the head and, while she was unconscious, stomped and jumped on her.
A patron found her, still unconscious, about 15 minutes later.
The justices ruled the office was included in the "public accommodation" since it was along a corridor that also contained public restrooms.
The court also rejected Foster's contentions that his sentence was excessive due to his lack of recent criminal history, and because the gunshot did not cause a life-threatening injury since it lodged between her skin and skull.
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