COOK COUNTY, IL – Drawing attention to a critical public safety issue, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart called on state lawmakers today to properly fund police efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who are prohibited by law from possessing them.
More than 27,000 people in Cook County have had their Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card revoked, often for felony convictions or mental health concerns, but they have not turned over their firearms and FOID cards as the law requires. Among those who have not complied are 1,863 people who have been deemed a “clear and present danger,” 5,368 who have a serious mental health concern, and 5,574 who have an order of protection against them.
Police agencies can follow up with these individuals to gain compliance and either take possession of the firearms or see that they are safely transferred to a third party. But most police agencies have not done this work.
Sheriff Dart formed the Sheriff’s Police Gun Suppression Team in 2013 and tasked it with ensuring individuals with revoked FOID cards comply with state law. The unit was the first of its kind and has recovered more than 1,000 firearms and worked more than 7,100 cases since its creation.
While some police agencies have since dedicated resources to this time consuming and potentially dangerous work, the number of non-compliant revoked cardholders only continues to rise. If the current pace of growth continues, the number of non-compliant revoked FOID cardholders will reach nearly 40,000 in Cook County in four years.
“This is a clear way to prevent unnecessary deaths, including those that stem from intimate partner violence and suicide. As our communities suffer gunfire and bloodshed at unconscionable levels, we have more than 27,000 cases where we know the person shouldn’t have access to a firearm but probably does,” Sheriff Dart said. “We need more police agencies to step forward and ensure these guns are removed. And the state should step in to help them do that. The state needs to provide the appropriate resources to ensure these incredibly important gun regulations work.”
The state currently sets aside approximately $2 million for revocation enforcement statewide. The Sheriff’s Office has been advocating a significant increase to key state lawmakers as they debate anti-violence efforts this session.