Sheriff Tom Dart calls for more funding to recover guns from owners whose gun licenses were revoked

In Cook County alone, more than 27,000 people have had their Firearm Owner Identification cards revoked due to convictions, mental illness or a restraining order — but they still haven’t turned in their guns.

SHARE Sheriff Tom Dart calls for more funding to recover guns from owners whose gun licenses were revoked
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart holds up photos of seized weapons as he testifies in support of the state’s proposed assault weapons ban in 2022. Dart on Friday called on the state legislature to expand funding to pay for law enforcement officers to collect thousands of guns currently in the possession of individuals whose Firearm Owners Identification cards have been revoked.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart holds up photos of seized weapons as he testifies in support of the state’s proposed assault weapons ban in 2022. Dart on Friday called on the state legislature to expand funding to pay for law enforcement officers to collect thousands of guns currently in the possession of individuals whose Firearm Owners Identification cards have been revoked.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Nearly 30,000 Cook County residents have had their license to own a gun revoked but never turned over their weapons, and state lawmakers must provide more funding for police agencies to recover the firearms, Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference Friday.

Standing beside a table covered with some of the more than 1,000 firearms sheriff’s deputies have taken from residents who lost their Firearm Owners Identification cards, Dart on Friday called on state lawmakers to more than quadruple the $2 million in funding available for local departments for FOID card enforcement.

After acts of gun violence occur in the news, “people ask, and rightfully so, where are all these guns coming from? Who has these guns? Where are they?” Dart said. “What if I were to tell you we in law enforcement, we actually know where thousands of them are, illegal guns. We know who has them. We know their address.”

Among the 27,000 Cook County residents whose FOID cards have been voided are 1,863 people who have been deemed a “clear and present danger” to public safety; 5,368 who have been judged to have a serious mental illness; and 5,700 who were required to surrender their firearms because of a protective order, Dart said.

Legislation setting aside the $2 million for FOID enforcement in 2019 was part of reforms to gun laws enacted after a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt manufacturing plant in Aurora. Gary Martin, whose FOID card had been revoked, brought a gun with him the day he was fired from Pratt and shot and killed five of his co-workers. The Cook County Sheriff’s Department receives $700,000 of that total, but Dart suggested $8 million to $10 million statewide would be necessary to make a dent in the growing list of FOID revocations.

Dart’s department in 2013 created a seven-officer Gun Suppression Team that spends the bulk of its time tracking down FOID violators and making the often tense trips to collect the weapons. In the last 10 years, the team has worked 7,000 cases and recovered more than 1,000 guns.

The state legislative session ends next week.

“We have to enforce this (FOID laws),” Dart said. “How do we enforce this? We put money behind it.”

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