Atty. general: Illinois must release FOID card list
Illinois State Police stood their ground Tuesday after the state’s attorney general determined the agency must disclose the names of people authorized to own guns in Illinois to comply with public records law.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan‘s public access counselor issued a letter Monday night rejecting state police arguments that releasing the information is an unwarranted invasion of privacy prohibited by the state public records law or that its disclosure would automatically endanger the lives of gun owners or those who don’t have firearms. State police determine who gets Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards but have always kept the information confidential.
Despite the decree, the names likely won’t be released soon. A state police lawyer indicated in a letter Tuesday the agency planned to ask a judge to decide the matter. And Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to make names permanently private.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Associated Press requested in September the names of each FOID cardholder in the state and the expiration date of each card. State police denied the request, prompting the public access counselor’s intervention.
“You can own a handgun, and information about whether you do or don’t is private information,” Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Greenville, said. “There is no reason for anyone or any government agency to make available to you or anyone else whether I have a FOID card.”
The state police and gun-rights groups also argue that publicizing names of those with permission to own guns puts them and others at risk. Knowing who has guns means criminals know whom to burglarize, or worse, said Todd Vandermyde, Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “You potentially make us targets,” Vandermyde said. “Or, on the inverse, you could say, ‘These are the homes that don’t have FOID cards so it’s likely they don’t have guns, so therefore they make better targets.’” The state police made the same argument, but the attorney general dismissed it as “speculative and conclusory.”
Why does Illinois want to make it so difficult for residents to practice their Second Amendment right by making gun owners’ names public? In Chicago, the city tried to ban handgun ownership which was overturned by the Supreme Court. And why does the AP require the names of those that have a FOID card?
My neighbor will know if I have a gun if they come running to me for help or try to break into my home in the middle of the night. Until then, it’s between me and my local county and is my business and none of yours.