WBEZ | Illinois concealed carry http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-concealed-carry Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois' 'outrageously insane' gun license loophole http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-outrageously-insane-gun-license-loophole-107437 <p><p>State lawmakers now have less than two weeks to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-panel-advances-stricter-gun-carry-bill-107400" target="_blank">pass a law</a> allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed guns.</p><p>But some say Illinois&rsquo; existing system of licensing gun owners is badly broken.</p><p>The state is supposed to take away Firearm Owners Identification Cards, or FOIDs,&nbsp; from felons, the mentally ill and people who have restraining orders against them, like those who have been charged with domestic violence.</p><p>But of the more than 11,200 cards that were revoked as of mid-May, more than 6,700 of those cards are still unaccounted for, according to Illinois State Police <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144728510/Revoked-Illinois-FOID-cards-by-city" target="_blank">data</a> obtained by WBEZ through the Freedom of Information Act.</p><p>Spotty enforcement of Illinois gun laws mean those revoked cardholders could be hanging onto their guns. And legal loopholes mean they could still buy ammunition, and possibly more firearms through private sales.</p><p>But there are some law enforcement groups in Illinois that are trying to stop that.</p><p>On a hot, sunny afternoon last week, Sgt. Chris Imhof started up his unmarked SUV in the parking lot of the Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s department in Maywood.</p><p>He and two other officers were going hunting for revoked FOID cards.</p><p>&ldquo;The first guy is, uh - was revoked for some sort of possession of a controlled substance,&rdquo; Imhof said as he drove to the first location.</p><p>He wore jeans and a ballcap with a green shamrock on it, and if it weren&rsquo;t for his gun and bullet-proof vest, you might not even know he was a cop. But he&rsquo;s heading up a special team of Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s officers whose job it is to go out a couple of times a week just to seize FOID cards from people who have had them revoked.</p><p>If this seems like overkill - three guys with guns and Kevlar going to get a plastic identification card - Imhof says there&rsquo;s a reason for the precautions.</p><p>In Illinois, somebody trying to buy a gun with a revoked card at a local gun shop - where a background check is required - would likely get caught. But Imhof says there&rsquo;s still a lot you can get away with in Illinois without somebody checking whether a FOID is actually valid.</p><p>&ldquo;They can get ammunition and they can also get the weapons on a private deal if somebody doesn&rsquo;t check to see if, uh, he&rsquo;s revoked. So, I mean it&rsquo;s important to grab &lsquo;em,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>So Imhof and his team are going door to door in the suburbs, trying to track down the nearly 3,000 revoked FOID cards that are still floating around Cook County - and, more importantly &ndash;&nbsp;to ask people to hand over their guns.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/car_al.jpg" style="float: right; height: 197px; width: 350px;" title="The gun team, headed by Sgt. Chris Imhof, has collected more than 100 guns from revoked FOID card holders since February. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" /></p><p>One of Imhof&rsquo;s partners squawks him over the radio to say that the man at the first stop is recorded as having bought a shotgun within the state of Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s still a potential that he has a gun, he has his card,&rdquo; Imhof said. &ldquo;We won&rsquo;t really know until we actually have contact with him.&rdquo;</p><p>We roll down a tree-lined street in suburban Melrose Park, and pull up to a white house with a chainlink fence. I stay in the car while the three officers walk past a row of bushy green hostas and knock on the front door.</p><p>After a few minutes of knocking, there&rsquo;s still no answer. So they leave a note telling the person with the revoked card to give them a call.</p><p>If this all seems a little polite for police work, it&rsquo;s because local law enforcement in Illinois don&rsquo;t actually have the legal authority to seize this person&rsquo;s gun - even if they had their FOID revoked for beating their spouse or being mentally ill.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re asking them to voluntarily hand their weapons over to us,&rdquo; Imhof said. &ldquo;They - they really don&rsquo;t have to.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;Outrageously insane&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>Experts and advocates say this is a problem that pervades Illinois&rsquo; gun licensing system.</p><p>Yet it concerns one of the few things people on both sides of the polarized gun debate seem to agree on, at least in principle: that certain groups of people shouldn&rsquo;t have access to guns.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/foid_walkie.jpg" style="float: left; height: 197px; width: 350px;" title="Sergeant Imhof walks away from the home empty handed. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" />But in Illinois, there&rsquo;s no uniform mechanism for anyone to go and get them. And while efforts in Cook County, Chicago and by the Illinois State Police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives bring in a few hundred guns each year, there are still thousands of revoked cards floating around the state, with no way of knowing how many guns are in the hands of people who aren&rsquo;t supposed to have them.</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly, I would challenge you to find an issue that is more outrageously insane than this one,&rdquo; said Cook County&rsquo;s Democratic Sheriff, Tom Dart, who launched his gun team back in February when he first learned about the holes in the FOID revocation process.</p><p>&ldquo;If the system were to work completely the way it&rsquo;s set up to work, all we&rsquo;ve got is your card,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;We could care less about the fact you&rsquo;re sitting on an arsenal of guns, and you clearly shouldn&rsquo;t be within a million yards of a gun.&rdquo;</p><p>Dart and other critics say the whole process is set up to fail.</p><p>When the State Police initially revoke somebody&rsquo;s FOID card, they simply send a letter in the mail, requesting that it be returned, according to spokeswoman Monique Bond.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s usually it, says Mark Walsh, with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re supposed to voluntarily surrender your FOID card,&rdquo; Walsh said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s one of the problems that we have.&rdquo;</p><p>But if you read Illinois&rsquo; current laws, Walsh says everything looks fine on paper.</p><p>People who are judged to be mentally ill, who are convicted of a felony or have a restraining order against them are supposed to have their FOID cards revoked by the State Police.</p><p>But in practice, more than 60 percent of the revoked cards are still out there.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s impossible to know how many of those people still have their guns, because the state does not track individual firearms, Walsh said.</p><p>&ldquo;To say that it&rsquo;s keeping people safe - I would have to say no. I mean I&nbsp; think we really need to put the time and money into fixing the system,&rdquo; Walsh said.</p><h2><strong>A lack of money - and communication</strong></h2><p>Both the Cook County Sheriff and the Chicago Police Department now have special teams that hunt down revoked FOID cards as part of larger efforts to stop the flow of illegal guns.</p><p>Both agencies say they have unwritten agreements with the State Police that allows them to get notifications whenever a FOID is revoked.</p><p>But several other big law enforcement agencies in Illinois say they&rsquo;ve never even asked for information about revoked FOIDs, and the Illinois State Police don&rsquo;t offer it up.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody, including the chief, was kinda shocked that we have 187 outstanding,&rdquo; said Lt. Pat Hoey, with the Rockford Police Department, referring to the number of revoked FOID cards from his town that are still unaccounted for.</p><p>Hoey says that&rsquo;s the kind of data local law enforcement should know about.</p><p>&ldquo;If Alex Keefe&rsquo;s a badass, and now we realize, &lsquo;Oh my God, he&rsquo;s got a revoked FOID,&rsquo; which means he probably has guns, and if we suspect he&rsquo;s doing narcotics or gang crimes, well - that would be good intelligence information to know,&rdquo; Hoey said.</p><p>Law enforcement officials in Lake and McHenry Counties, as well as the cities of Rockford, Springfield and Aurora - where a total of 804 unaccounted FOIDs were last registered - say they do not get revocation lists from the state police.</p><p><em>(Other jurisdictions with the highest number of revocations, including Will and DuPage Counties, and the cities of Joliet, Peoria and Decatur, did not respond to calls for this story.)</em></p><p>But no law enforcement agency contacted by WBEZ blamed the Illinois State Police for failing to retrieve revoked FOID cards, even though the law says it&rsquo;s their responsibility.</p><p>There are just about 25 people working in the FOID office, which has an annual budget of just $1.5 million, according to Bond, the State Police spokeswoman. And they&rsquo;re dealing with a record number of applications in addition to the thousands of revoked cards.</p><p>WBEZ repeatedly requested interviews with the person in charge of FOID, and with Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. The agency refused those requests.</p><p>But Grau spoke briefly about the problems with FOID during a press conference with Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in January.</p><p>&ldquo;Our issue with the FOID unit is, quite frankly, funding,&rdquo; Grau said. &ldquo;We continue to experience retirements. We&rsquo;re, we&rsquo;re - manpower-wise, in our FOID unit, it&rsquo;s very, very low.&rdquo;</p><p>Bond later added that State Police sometimes notify local law enforcement of especially urgent FOID revocations - but not all of them.</p><p>And state troopers also work with federal agents to retrieve guns and revoked cards as part of their larger mission to collect illegal firearms, Bond said.</p><p>Together with the ATF, troopers seize an average of 200 guns a year, according to an ATF spokesman.</p><p>Still, advocates point to the danger posed by thousands of missing revoked cards to argue the FOID system needs an overhaul, especially as the state stares down an early June deadline to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-panel-advances-stricter-gun-carry-bill-107400" target="_blank">legalize the carrying of concealed weapons</a>.</p><h2><strong>With concealed carry, potential &lsquo;chaos&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>Dart is pushing bills in Springfield to give local law enforcement the power to seize guns from people who&rsquo;ve been revoked, instead of relying on the State Police.</p><p>The provision, which is currently folded into proposed concealed carry legislation, would also require that people turn in revoked FOID cards within 48 hours.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/al2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 197px; width: 350px;" title="The Cook County Sheriff's gun team spends a few days each week knocking on doors, looking for revoked FOIDs. Nearly 3,000 revoked FOID cards registered in Cook County haven't been returned. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" />&ldquo;Otherwise what you&rsquo;re gonna have, is you&rsquo;re gonna have individuals who have a concealed carry permit, in addition to their FOID card, that&rsquo;s been revoked, and no one&rsquo;s gettin&rsquo; those guns, either,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;And they&rsquo;re carrying them all around the streets, as well. So I mean this will be complete and total chaos.&rdquo;</p><p>Dart also wants people with revoked FOID cards to make a list of all guns they own - an idea that has concerned the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates.</p><p>A spokesman for the NRA in Illinois did not respond to interview requests.</p><p>Back in the suburbs last week, Dart&rsquo;s gun team has visited a handful of homes in a couple of hours. But they&rsquo;ve still had no luck getting any revoked FOID cards - or any guns.</p><p>Not from the guy who was revoked for child pornography. Or from another guy whose card was revoked for unlawful use of a weapon.</p><p>But then Sergeant Chris Imhof&rsquo;s radio starts to crackle.</p><p>&ldquo;You guys win! Number 100!&rdquo; said a voice on the other end of his walkie talkie.</p><p>It&rsquo;s from two other officers who are a few suburbs away, where they&rsquo;ve just retrieved their 100th gun from someone with a revoked FOID.</p><p>Imhof congratulates them over the radio, but he doesn&rsquo;t get too excited. There are still thousands of revoked FOID cards in Cook County, he explains, and who knows how many guns.</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a political reporter at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a>.</em></p><h2><strong><a name="map"></a>Map: Where are the revoked FOID cards?</strong></h2><p>Illinois takes away gun rights from criminals, the mentally ill and people who have restraining orders against them. But more than 6,700 revoked Firearm Owners Identification cards across the state are unaccounted for, potentially allowing their owners to still buy guns and ammunition. Here&rsquo;s a map of where the revoked FOIDs were last registered. <em>(<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144728510/Revoked-Illinois-FOID-cards-by-city" target="_blank">Data from the Illinois State Police</a>)&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="800" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col18+from+1kQNYd_P9dsbuagj34ugxRhyfRLiKjM0Fao40gVs&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=39.60682880124687&amp;lng=-89.38320786329103&amp;t=1&amp;z=7&amp;l=col18&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong><a name="photos"></a>Photos:</strong></p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633816263418%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F8893866492%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633816263418%2Fwith%2F8893866492%2F&amp;set_id=72157633816263418&amp;jump_to=8893866492" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633816263418%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F8893866492%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633816263418%2Fwith%2F8893866492%2F&amp;set_id=72157633816263418&amp;jump_to=8893866492" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p></p> Thu, 30 May 2013 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-outrageously-insane-gun-license-loophole-107437 Guns and duty, once the combat tour ends http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080059.JPG" style="height: 436px; width: 620px;" title="Former U.S. Marine Justin Wigg, 28, of Schaumburg pulls in a paper target to see how he did.(Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78845520&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Justin Wigg says it took about three years of being out of the United States Marine Corps before he stopped having the dream.</p><p>&ldquo;You could ask just about any military vet if they&rsquo;ve ever had &lsquo;that dream,&rsquo; and they&rsquo;ll know what you&rsquo;re talking about,&rdquo; Wigg, 28, explained one recent weeknight at his home in Schaumburg, Ill. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s that dream where you wake up in the middle of the night and you are like, &lsquo;Oh s---, I don&rsquo;t know where my rifle is.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But gone are the days when Wigg&rsquo;s dreams are haunted by barking Marine Corps drill instructors, dressing him down for not having his rifle ready at all hours of the day. Now he&rsquo;s got a corporate job, a suburban townhouse and a rambunctious brindle greyhound, named Sheriff.</p><p>And he still has a gun, albeit just one: A SIG Sauer P226 .40 cal. pistol he stows in a blue plastic case, tucked into his bedroom wardrobe &ndash; well out of arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>Wigg is one of several people WBEZ is profiling as part of the series, &ldquo;Our Guns.&rdquo; It aims to document the different relationships local gun owners have with their firearms, as people across the country debate gun rights and gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. and daily gun violence here in Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Few have a closer relationship to their guns than soldiers in combat, but that can change as they ease back into civilian life.</div><p>After serving two tours in Iraq, Wigg said not carrying a gun when he first left the Marine Corps made him feel kind of naked. (Think: forgetting your cell phone at home, or driving without a seatbelt.)<br />His itch to carry a gun was stifled, he said, by the fact that Illinois is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow people to carry concealed weapons. A lot of his buddies from other states started carrying when they got out of the service, Wigg said.</p><p>&ldquo;And part of it probably is because of that - that dream feeling,&rdquo; he said, adding his friends now think: &ldquo;&rsquo;I&rsquo;ve had a gun stuck to my hip for the last four years, and why - why not just go buy a pistol and keep myself calm with that sense of safety?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KEEFE%20GUNS%20military%209.jpg" style="float: right; height: 524px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg displays a bandaged finger, after being shot by friendly fire while serving in Iraq. (Courtesy image)" />I should disclose that I actually went to middle school with Justin Wigg, though we were never close. We hadn&rsquo;t talked in about 15 years, until we reconnected on Facebook when he learned I was doing this story.</div><p>The town in which we were raised &ndash; northwest suburban Roselle, Ill. &ndash; is the kind of place where most of the kids I knew had never even fired a gun. Wigg says his first time wasn&rsquo;t until basic training.</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;Luckiest person in Iraq&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>When I visit his home, Wigg pops in a DVD to show me &ndash; a kind of video scrapbook of his time in the Marines, set to rock music and rap.</p><p>In one scene, camouflaged Marines slide down ropes trailing from a low-flying helicopter. In another, guys in full gear are shooting at targets shaped roughly like human silhouettes. A big part of all this training &ndash; the long hours at the shooting range &ndash; is safety.</p><p>Wigg points to a scar on his right middle finger. This is where a bullet went clean through his flesh while on patrol one day in Iraq, without breaking a bone.</p><p>The shot was accidental, fired from the rifle of a fellow Marine who wasn&rsquo;t following safety protocol.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s extremely amazing,&rdquo; Wigg said, admiring that his finger still functions normally. &ldquo;The doctor said that I was the luckiest person in Iraq that day that I still had my finger attached.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>Training</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image ">The story of this injury reminds me that Wigg&rsquo;s experience with guns is unique, something most Americans will never experience.</div><p>He carried a loaded gun as part of his job, for months on end, to guard against the very real danger that somebody would try to kill him.</p><p>He was trained until his gun became an extension of his body, trained until the training itself crept into his dreams. And he was trained to do what many hunters and sportsmen are trained not to do: Shoot other people.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080113.JPG" style="float: left; height: 246px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg shows off a tight cluster of of shots he made on the lower part of the target. He used a semi-automatic civilian version of the rifle he used in the military. The reporter's shots are scattered, less accurately, along the top of the target. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say that, you know, once you get out past that 50-yard distance, you know, like, you can&rsquo;t see faces and you can&rsquo;t - you know, it - it makes it a little easier to - to not have that emotional connection,&rdquo; Wigg said, when I ask him about this.</p><p>This answer is not &ldquo;P.C,&rdquo; he laments. But that lack of emotion, he called it &quot;dehumanizing,&quot; was part of his training, too.</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s out of the Marine Corps, he says he&rsquo;s able to think of his enemies differently.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that they all have the same feelings and families and things like that,&rdquo; Wigg said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s just - that&rsquo;s part of war and that&rsquo;s the stuff that you - you don&rsquo;t have time to think about at the time, and you spend the rest of your life dealing with.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;When the good guys are armed&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>On a recent weeknight, I met Wigg at an indoor range in Lombard, Ill.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The ground inside the shooting range is strewn with spent brass shell casings. The air is pungent with the smell of gunfire, and so thick you can taste it &ndash; sweet, in the back of your throat.</div><p>&ldquo;[With] good ammo, you don&rsquo;t get the taste, you just get that good, nostalgic smell that you think of,&rdquo; he shouted over the sound of gunfire, in between turns shooting at the paper target downrange.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080104.JPG" style="height: 384px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Equipment rests on the ground in between shooting sets. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />Wigg says he is still nostalgic about those long hours at the military range, shooting off thousands of rounds. But now, he shoots with his friends just a couple of times a month, mostly for the fun of it.</p><p>He and a buddy, another ex-Marine,- argue over who shot which holes through a black, silhouette-shaped paper target.</p><p>&ldquo;After a stressful day, you know, this is a really good way to just blow off some steam,&rdquo; Wigg explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good guy time to just shoot the s---, make fun of each other.&rdquo;</p><p>But for Wigg, this is more than just a night with the guys. He believes carrying a concealed weapon is a right, that someday he hopes to exercise in Illinois. His military training could be an asset if he were ever witness to a crime, and needed to act, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Your chances are better when the good guys are armed than when it&rsquo;s just bad guys with guns,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Wigg says that familiar refrain &ndash; &quot;only a good guy with a gun, can stop a bad guy with a gun&quot; &ndash; appeals to his sense of duty, even if he no longer wears a uniform.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 15:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469