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NIU Shootings Reopen Conversation about Gun Control

By Margaret Lyons in News on Feb 18, 2008 9:43PM

It was pretty much inevitable that discussions about the NIU shooting would turn to gun control. And turn they have.

A group of NIU parents are calling for tighter gun control laws, as is Rep Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago). Mayor Daley asked "Why do we love guns in America?," and Neil Steinberg complains that "the prospect of any kind of meaningful gun control in this country is as impossible a dream as perpetual motion."

There's a new law coming down the pike that requires health care professionals (healthcare amateurs remain unencumbered) to report patients "exhibiting suicidal, threatening or assaultive behavior," according to the Sun-Times. Might that discourage some people from seeking help, though--the idea that their behavior may be reported to the police?

All the guns Steve Kazmierczak used were purchased legally, and none is considered an assault weapon. Kazmierczac had a valid FOID card, which is a Firearm Owners Identification Card. According to the State, there are 1.2 million valid FOID card holders in Illinois, and the application process is pretty straight-forward. These are some of the questions:

2.Have you ever been convicted of a felony? 3. In the past 5 years, have you been a patient in any medical facility or part of any medical facility used primarily for the care or treatment of persons for mental illness? 4. Are you addicted to narcotics? 5. Are you mentally retarded? 6. Are you subject to an existing order of protection which prohibits you from possessing a firearm? 7. Within the past 5 years, have you been convicted of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in which a firearm was used or possessed? 8. Have you ever been convicted of domestic battery or substantially similar offense (misdemeanor or felony)? 9. Have you ever been adjudicated a delinquent minor for the commission of an offense that if committed by an adult would be a felony? 10 Are you an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?

Kazmierczac's history of mental illness did not disqualify him from obtaining a FOID card and subsequently purchasing firearms. And as much as we'd love for there to be a law that bans potential murderers from buying guns, does a blanket law that bans anyone with any history of, say, depression really make sense? [Neil Steinberg, ABC 7, Trib, FOID card info, S-T]