Governor Signs Wheeler Legislation to Tighten Mental Health Definitions and Protect Second Amendment Rights in FOID Law

Springfield, IL… Legislation spearheaded by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) intended to help reduce gun violence through better mental health reporting has been signed in to law.

Image result for foid renewalStatistically, two-thirds of gun deaths are attributed to suicide. Current Illinois law requires hospitals to report certain mental health admissions to ensure that people at risk of harming themselves or others do not have access to firearms. However, there is a lack of clarity in the reporting process that has led many hospitals and medical facilities to under-report required admissions to the Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Police (ISP). House Bill 4855 will serve to clear up the state statute that ambiguously defines what constitutes a “patient” receiving mental health treatment and under what circumstances it needs to be reported. As part of the agreement process in crafting the bill, the Illinois Hospital Association has committed to improved staff training at Illinois’ hospitals to ensure the law is being properly followed and patient rights are being respected.

“This law is a much needed clarification to the regulations that are already in place to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable individuals for hospital workers,” Rep. Wheeler said. “Laws intended to address gun possession by mentally unstable individuals only work if people understand and follow them.”

In addition to shoring up existing law, HB 4855 also serves to protect the second amendment rights of responsible FOID card holders. The legislation requires FOID card renewal applications to be approved or denied within 60 days. If the application was submitted prior to expiration, the individual’s FOID card will remain valid while ISP processes the application unless the person becomes subject to revocation.

“The FOID renewal process can be lengthy, resulting in responsible, law abiding citizens needlessly losing their gun rights,” said Wheeler. “This legislation will ensure that an individual’s right to their FOID card is not infringed.”

HB 4855, now P.A. 100-906, will take effect on January 1, 2019.

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