SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today took action to protect victims of domestic violence by signing a new law that closes a loophole that had allowed criminals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to receive their surrendered firearms after they complete their sentences. This statute was in conflict with federal law, which prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing firearms.
“We want to make sure that we keep weapons out of the hands of people like convicted domestic abusers who have shown that they are violent. Why would we give people who put others’ lives in danger access to guns?” said Governor Blagojevich.
House Bill 892, sponsored by Representative Jim Sacia (R-Freeport) and Senator Peter J. Roskam (R-Wheaton), amends current law by deleting a provision that allowed legally possessed firearms to be returned to a person once they complete a sentence for a conviction on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. Currently, anyone convicted of domestic violence is not allowed to have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card.
“I applaud Governor Blagojevich for signing this legislation and supporting efforts to keep weapons out of the hands of people who are facing criminal prosecution. This law can only help to save a life or prevent serious injury,” stated Senator Roskam.
During the last decade, government’s response to domestic violence has increased in both effort and effectiveness. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 ushered in a new era for the state, and recent Supreme Court rulings have put more "teeth" into the law by effectively mandating that law enforcement act to protect victims of domestic abuse as a way to reduce these dangerous incidents.
“I am very pleased that the Governor is signing this bill. It has support from both the NRA and Pro-Second Amendment folks, as well as those that are opposed to the possession of firearms. There is a feeling throughout the General Assembly that in domestic violence situations - where very often love is involved - crimes become quite serious before they are ever reported,” said Representative Sacia.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
· Firearms were the major weapon type used in intimate partner homicides from 1981 to 1998.
· Forty-four percent of women murdered by their intimate partner had visited an emergency department within 2 years of the homicide, 93% of whom had at least one injury visit.
· Nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimizations occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older. This violence results in nearly 2 million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths.
· More than 1 million women and 371,000 men are stalked by intimate partners each year.
· Intimate partner violence occurs across all populations, irrespective of social, economic, religious, or cultural group. However, young women and those below the poverty line are disproportionately affected.
· Nearly 25% of women have been raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, and more than 40% of the women who experience partner rapes and physical assaults sustain a physical injury.
House Bill 892, effective January 1, 2006, also states that an individual must appear in court to answer charges, submit to the court’s orders, cannot leave the state, or violate any criminal act. If the person is found not guilty by reason of insanity, his/her firearms will be retained by law enforcement.
Signing HB 892 builds upon the Governor’s ongoing efforts to stop gun violence in Illinois, including:
- Legislation signed in July that closes the gun show loophole that allowed gun buyers to avoid comprehensive background checks. SB1333 requires gun sellers at firearm shows to request background checks for potential gun purchasers.
- House Bills 524, 32, and 35 signed in June which impose harsher prison sentences for individuals convicted of a crime using a firearm, including mandatory prison time for second or subsequent offenses.
- House Bill 348 which requires State Police to report the name and address of a person who attempted to get a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID card), but was denied, to the local law enforcement agency where the person lives.
- $3.9 million for Operation CeaseFire programs in Illinois in the coming fiscal year, including seven $250,000 grants for communities that will receive funding for the first time.
- In March, the governor created an elite gun trafficking police unit to stop the flow of crime guns into Illinois. The gun unit works with federal authorities and law enforcement agencies from Indiana and Mississippi to detect and capture gunrunners and illegal dealers. More crime guns flow into Illinois from Indiana and Mississippi than from any other state.
The governor has pushed strongly for the state assault weapons ban currently being considered by the legislature. The legislation would ban assault weapons and .50 caliber rifles in Illinois, which are extremely dangerous weapons. The ban would outlaw weapons such as UZIs, AK47s, and TEC-DC9s.