Bipartisan committee recommends clarity, transparency for Illinois’ gun registry

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(The Center Square) – Emergency rules from Illinois State Police about the state’s gun ban registry continue to be in place, but a bipartisan committee of legislators say more needs to be done to address the public’s concerns and provide clarity.

The rules as part of the state’s gun ban entitled the Protect Illinois Communities Act were filed by Illinois State Police in September for the registry window to open Oct. 1. Those with certain preowned firearms, attachments and .50 caliber ammunition that the act now bans are required to register them with the state before Jan. 1, 2024, or face potential criminal penalties.

Illinois State Police have published data showing just over 1,000 firearms owners have filed disclosure affidavits for a total of 3,200 items. Without detail, just 17 “accessory disclosures” are noted.

There are more than 2.4 million Firearm Owner Identification card holders in Illinois.

At Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules hearing in Chicago, no motion was broght to suspend the rules. A measure to object to the rules failed along party lines, but a measure was approved with bipartisan support that state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said recommends clarity and transparency.

“Whether they are specific firearm, magazine, attachment questions, issues about private security contractors, questions about transfers and the return of firearms,” Spain said. “And, we could really, literally be here all day and night going through each one of these questions seeking answers from the Illinois State Police.”

The recommendation motion was approved on a voice vote.

Spain said during the meeting ISP has agreed to act on the recommendations.

“And they’ve agreed to also hold additional public hearings for the permanent rule-making associated on this topic,” Spain said.

“We are happy to address all questions and comments submitted to ISP and will be doing so in the weeks to come,” a department spokesperson told The Center Square. “ISP already has one public hearing scheduled regarding the Protecting Illinois Communities Act rule and is working to schedule two additional hearings.”

ISP said the next hearing is Nov. 2, 2023 in Springfield, Room D1 of the Stratton Building.

“ISP is committed to transparency with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and the public,” the spokesperson said. “We appreciate JCAR working with us to allow the Emergency Rule to remain in effect as ISP works to address the concerns raised within our statutory authority.”

The approved motion recommended three public hearings.

The emergency rules for the registry are part of the state’s gun and magazine ban that was enacted in January. Lawsuits challenging the law on Second, Fifth and 14th amendment grounds are still pending.

The state was enjoined from enforcing the entirety of the law this spring, but a stay on that injunction allowed implementation of it while an appeal continued. That appeal in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is pending, with further court action expected in the Southern District federal court.

JCAR meets again next month during fall veto session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield and again in Chicago in December.

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