Audit finds holes in gun-card application process

April 5, 2012

By Dulce Mora

A new report by the Illinois Auditor General found that some people could legally purchase firearms in Illinois despite having certain mental health issues that could have disqualified them.

The audit, released Thursday, said that in 2010 only three of the 102 circuit court clerks in Illinois submitted mental health court orders needed by the State Police to review a person’s application for a Firearm Owner's Identification card (FOID).

As a result, unless another state agency or health facility reported those mental health problems, “these individuals’ FOID cards were not denied and the individuals could purchase firearms.”

Furthermore, auditors said disqualifying mental conditions are supposed to be reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Other states use this federal database, which meant individuals could purchase firearms in other states putting the safety of the general public at risk, according to the audit.

The report cited other problems with the program, including that despite revoking about 20,000 FOIDs in a three year period, only 30 percent of those cards were returned.

Though a prospective gun buyer must clear a background check, people could still use the revoked FOID to purchase ammunition. Plus, when purchasing firearms from a private seller, a background check is not required so guns could be purchased using a revoked FOID.

The Illinois State Police responded to the report by addressing each of the recommendations made by the auditors.

In its response to the lack of mental health reports from the circuit court clerks, the Department of the State Police said it has been in contact with the Illinois Administrative Office of Courts to resolve the situation. State police officials say they are scheduled to speak at an upcoming meeting of the Clerks in April.