'Clear and present danger': Ill. changes how reports impact firearm ID cards

The accused gunman in the July 4 Highland Park shooting was issued a FOID despite police calls to his home months earlier


By John O'Connor
Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois State Police Department on Monday implemented an emergency rule to allow authorities broader discretion in issuing Firearm Owner's Identification cards in response to a mass shooting July Fourth in suburban Chicago.

The rule change will allow the state police to consider historical reports that individuals posed a “clear and present danger" to themselves or others as a basis to deny a FOID card. The accused gunman in the July 4th Highland Park shooting was issued a FOID despite police calls to his home months earlier for reports of suicidal and other violent threats.

Law enforcement search in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade, Monday, July 4, 2022.
Law enforcement search in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade, Monday, July 4, 2022. (Photo/Nam Y. Huh for Associated Press)

The modification will allow the state police “to consider more evidence when determining whether to issue or revoke a FOID card and will strengthen the ISP’s ability to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” State Police Director Brendan Kelly said in a statement.

State police in December 2019 issued a FOID to Robert E. Crimo III, accused of firing 70 rounds from a high-powered rifle into a Independence Day parade crowd in Highland Park, killing seven and inuring at least 30. Police found Crimo had no criminal record, mental health problems or other disqualifying marks.

They apparently could not consider Crimo's threat of suicide in April of that year or his September threat to “kill everyone,” a claim he and his mother later denied. That's because administrative rules currently limit implementing “clear and present danger” safeguards to instances where the threat is “impending,” “imminent,” “substantial” or “significant.”

The rule change will allow state police to use the “clear and present danger” standard spelled out in state law, which defines it as physical or verbal behavior including “violent, suicidal or assaultive threats” or actions.

The expanded process will provide authorities with “a fuller picture of an applicant's history,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.

“Any FOID applicant with prior clear and present danger information needs to have that considered when having their application processed,” Pritzker said.

Such rule changes, submitted to the Illinois secretary of state, take effect within 10 days when an agency deems it necessary to protect public safety. It remains in effect for five months. During this time, the state police plan to seek a permanent change through the bicameral, bipartisan legislative Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

The clear and present danger standard is distinct from Illinois' “red-flag” law in which a court is authorized to temporarily remove weapons from people who exhibit threatening behavior.

 

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