Protecting Ill. Gun Owners' ID Now in Governor's Hands

Elisabeth Meinecke
Posted: May 20, 2011 3:40 PM

The Illinois Senate voted 42-1 today on a bill that will protect the names of Illinois firearm owners from being made public, a bill that the Illinois House passed 98-12 in April.

If Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who had an "F" rating from the NRA as late as 2010, signs the bill, it will unequivocaly negate a call by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for the information to be released, something she required after the state police denied a reporter's request for the information via the Freedom of Information Act.

Illinois Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard, commenting on the overwhelming vote in favor of the bill, said it was "pretty easy" to get the bill passed. When asked about whether he believes Quinn will sign the bill, Dillard pointed out that it's the governor's state police who are against the FOID disclosures.

One of the arguments Madigan's office made in a letter requiring the information to be disclosed was that it was a way to basically safeguard corruption of the database by the Illinois police.

“[E]ven if disclosure of the names and expiration of FOID card owners did constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, this fact is outweighed by the public interest that exists in ensuring the integrity of ISP's database,” the letter said.

Dillard discounted the argument, pointing out that it's the job of the governor to ensure those working for the state keep the records honest.

"If we can't trust the state police, we really have a problem," Dillard said.

Madigan's directive is also being challenged right now in the Illinois court system. Dillard said that if the governor signs the legislation, it will trump whatever the judge rules in that dispute. However, should Quinn not sign the legislation, what the judge determines will be the governing interpretation in Illinois.