Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has requested the state police make the name of every registered gun owner available to the public. She’s done so, stating it qualifies under the Freedom of Information Act. A judge has issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the release of information, though this is no doubt just the beginning.
Currently, the Illinois State Police maintains a database of all registered gun owners, those who possess a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOIC). Madigan ruled the police release this list. The State Police sought a judge’s intervention and they got what they asked for—at least for now.
Madigan’s request has gun owners up in arms, wondering what purpose the release would serve. Some are saying it’s merely a political ploy on her part. This commentary in the Tribune states the request “sounds like so much politics aimed at those who don’t like the idea of people owning guns.” And that doesn’t seem to be too far off.
The FOID database is traditionally used by law enforcement and as a way to track accountability in the right to bear arms. Disclosing such information could breach privacy and potentially put the law-abiding gun owners at risk.
The Freedom of Information Act, created in 1966, allows for the disclosure of documents with their legal translation and information under the control of the government. A quick look even at the Wikipedia site explaining the act shows just how many exceptions and amendments have been applied to the Act.
The Associated Press filed the request under the Freedom of Information Act and this is what state Attorney General Madigan based her ruling off of.
Because the initial request came from the AP, it’s a fair guess they want to be able to access the listing for reporting reasons. They want to use the information in their journalistic endeavors. But do they have a right to the information under the FOIA? That’s something that will ultimately be decided by the courts.
Gun rights are a hotly contested issue in every state. The guarantee we are afforded under the Constitution’s Second Amendment is always making the news in one way or another. Citizen’s opinions range from the desire to ban all personally owned firearms to a virtual free for all in gun ownership. The majority, however, lie somewhere in between.
Because there are complicated laws surrounding lawful gun ownership, it isn’t too difficult for even a normally law-abiding citizen to run afoul of these laws. If you’re facing weapons charges in the state of Illinois, contact our lawyers today.