Gov. Blagojevich signs
legislation increasing background checks for the sale of guns in
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SB 940 ensures mental health history is added to
background checks, purchase information is shared with federal
[September 08, 2007]
SPRINGFIELD -- In response to recent nationwide efforts to
toughen gun laws following the Virginia Tech tragedy last April,
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation Aug. 31 designed
to prevent the sale of guns to individuals who pose a serious threat
to public safety. Senate Bill 940, sponsored by state Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Mount Prospect, and state Rep. Harry Osterman,
D-Chicago, will help make sure that gun purchaser and owner
information is shared with federal authorities and will add mental
health history to background checks for gun purchases in Illinois.
"The lessons we learned as a nation from the Virginia Tech
tragedy are still very fresh in our minds," Blagojevich said. "We
must do what we can to prevent future tragedies and make sure guns
are kept out of the hands of individuals who could pose a threat to
Senate Bill 940 amends the Firearm Owner Identification Card Act
and the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality
Act to require the Illinois State Police to report information on
people who are prohibited from buying or owning guns to the FBI's
National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill also
requires hospitals and mental health facilities to submit all
relevant mental health records to the Illinois State Police, who
would then forward the names of affected individuals to the FBI
system and use the information when processing state gun licenses.
Currently, the Illinois State Police's background check system
only receives notice of individuals who have been admitted for
inpatient treatment. Under this new law, hospitals and mental health
facilities would report information to the state police on all
individuals -- both inpatient and outpatient. Expanded mental health
background checks can be another tool to identify individuals who
pose a serious threat but who have never received inpatient care.
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Additionally, this bill is designed to ensure that the Illinois
State Police mental health records are up-to-date. Hospitals and
mental health facilities will now be required to report this
information within seven days of admission or provision of mental
health services, as opposed to the previous 30-day requirement.
In the last five years, more than 148,000 people have been killed
by a firearm in the United States, 14,500 of them children and
teens. According to the most recent data, 29,569 people were killed
in America by gunfire in one year, which averages to 81 people a day
-- or a person killed by a gun every 18 minutes.
According to the Brady Campaign, in 2006 over 1,100 people
died from gun violence in Illinois -- more than three people each
day. In 2006, 82 percent of Chicago murders involved a firearm.
The legislation is made effective on June 1, 2008.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]