On February 15, Gary Martin opened fire at a warehouse in Aurora, Illinois after finding out he had been fired. He fatally shot five of his coworkers and wounded five police officers and a union representative. He used a Smith and Wesson handgun that he purchased using a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card legally five years earlier.
Martin should never have been allowed to purchase a handgun by law because was a convicted felon. Five separate federal background check databases failed to show Martin's 1995 felony conviction for choking and beating his ex-girlfriend using a baseball bat in Mississippi. When he applied for a concealed carry license, his fingerprints resulted in his application being flagged. The state police denied his license and revoked his FOID card, but he never had to surrender his weapon.
More Than 30,000 Illinois Residents May Possess Guns They No Longer Have a Right to Own
The devastating loss of life in Aurora may have been preventable if the shooter was made to surrender his handgun after he lost the right to own a weapon legally. His illegal gun ownership slipped through the cracks. The failure of the state to require residents to surrender their weapons after their right to own them is revoked happens all the time in Illinois.
The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Illinois has failed to make sure that people surrender their guns after their FOID cards have been revoked. An estimated 27,000 Illinois residents have not informed state authorities as to what they did with their weapons after they lost their FOID cards. Law enforcement currently does not know whether or not 78% of residents who are no longer able to possess guns legally still own those guns or not.
This lack of oversight poses a severe risk to public safety. Residents who have been convicted of domestic violence or those with mental health concerns have had their cards rescinded, yet the state of Illinois does not know whether or not they still possess handguns. Three out of four of those convicted of domestic violence or who suffer from mental health concerns have failed to tell the state where their weapons are. This is the case even though they made over 5,000 inquiries about purchasing guns before their cards were revoked.
State and local authorities have failed to follow up on these revocations. Between 2015 and 2019, more than 34,000 Illinois residents have had their FOID cards revoked. Over half of these residents failed to relinquish their weapons. Even though they can no longer purchase a weapon with the card, they can still purchase ammunition. This is a public safety issue that Illinois needs to take seriously.
If You Need Legal Assistance for a Gun Related Charge, We are Here to Help
At Glasgow & Olsson, our attorneys vigorously represent our clients who face Cook County firearm or weapons based criminal charges. If you are facing any possession of a firearm, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, or felon in possession of a firearm charge in Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, or DuPage county, reach out right away. To contact us, please fill out our online form for an initial consultation.
(image courtesy of Tim Graf)