By a vote of 80-32-1, the House of Representatives today struck a balance between civil liberties and Second Amendment rights and improved public safety by approving a method by which family members or law enforcement can seek an emergency firearms restraining order to remove firearms from individuals posing an immediate threat to themselves and/or others. State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), an avid supporter of gun rights, was a leading Republican negotiator of the language in the bill. He is also a Chief Co-Sponsor.
“Our Second Amendment rights are under threat- not because of random gun violence, because statistics tell us that acts of random gun violence are going down in this country,” said Reick. “What’s going to destroy the Second Amendment is the public outrage that comes when we see senseless mass shootings like we saw in Parkland, in Texas, and in other locations around our country. The people who did those shootings gave off signals. They let people know that danger was imminent. Family members see that and need tools to help them separate their loved one from their weapons during their time of urgent need.”
Through HB 2354, family members or law enforcement can petition the court for an emergency firearms restraining order. There then must be a hearing as soon as possible but no later than 14 days requesting a six-month restraining order at which time the respondent will have the right to attend and respond. The standard of proof for an emergency order is probable cause that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing injury to themselves or others by owning or having access to firearms. If probable cause is found, the court will issue an emergency firearms restraining order and shall issue a warrant directing law enforcement to search the respondent’s property and seize his/her firearms. At that point, the Illinois State Police (ISP) will have the authority to suspend the respondent’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card and concealed carry license.
If an emergency firearms order of protection is issued, the respondent is guaranteed the right to a full hearing, at which time it must be proven by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a danger to him/herself or others. If the allegations are not proven at the full hearing, the record of the case is expunged, so as not to do any harm to an innocent respondent. Strict penalties are also written into the bill that provide for penalties of perjury for any individual who would falsely swear out a petition for a firearms restraining order.
“I believe this negotiated bill is the best of its kind in the nation,” said Reick. “I fully expect it to become the national model. It includes strong civil liberty and Second Amendment protections while responding to the sad reality that mentally unstable people will and do use their guns to harm themselves and others. It was a privilege to help write this bill.”
HB 2354 now moves back to the Senate for reconsideration. If approved, it will be sent to the Governor for final action. Click here to listen to Reick’s floor comments about the bill. Click here to listen to Reick’s response to the NRA’s last-minute decision to oppose the bill and comments by a colleague that question the court’s right to interfere.