Willis-sponsored bill creating Firearms Restraining Order is signed into law

Willis-sponsored bill creating Firearms Restraining Order is signed into law

Law brings help to Illinois families, protects community members from gun violence

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois families and law enforcement officers will get legal help to keep guns away from people who are unstable or dangerous under a new law sponsored by State Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, and signed today by Governor Bruce Rauner.

“In the wake of gun violence tragedies, we hear again and again from friends and family members who saw warning signs but felt helpless because they couldn’t keep guns away from someone who was troubled or unstable,” Willis said Monday. “With this bipartisan law, Illinois families and law enforcement officers can seek a firearm restraining order if a person’s gun possession would pose significant danger to themselves or others. I believe that Governor Rauner’s decision to sign HB 2354 and limit gun access will save lives.”

Under the new law, an immediate family member or law enforcement official may petition the court for help if they fear that a person’s access to guns is likely to result in violence.

The court will consider whether the person has made any recent threats or committed any recent acts of violence (including violence against himself), whether the person has been convicted of a violent offense or violated a protective order of any kind, and whether the person has engaged in a pattern of violent acts or threats within the past year.

If the court finds that the person poses a significant danger, the person can be restrained from purchasing or possessing guns for up to one year. The court is authorized to issue a warrant for any firearms in the person’s possession, and the person must immediately surrender any firearms or other deadly weapons to law enforcement.

“It is heartbreaking to watch a family member who is going through a mental health crisis, and it is terrifying to know that a person in crisis may turn a gun on himself or others,” Willis said. “With the firearms restraining order we have a powerful new tool to disarm people while they get the help they desperately need.”

Willis noted that this new law fully protects the individual’s due process rights. The law also includes penalties against anyone who brings a false claim to disarm someone who poses no real threat.

California, Oregon and Washington have enacted similar laws to allow immediate family members and law enforcement officers to seek court action to disarm dangerous individuals. Connecticut and Indiana have similar laws, but only for law enforcement.

“We are making it possible for family members to step in and take action before tragedies happen,” Willis said. “I’m very proud that Illinois has taken this smart, bipartisan step, and I am deeply grateful to the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition for all their hard work in helping to pass this important new law.”