Breen Helps Create Legislation to Protect Public Safety

hammer-802301_640.jpgToday, bipartisan legislation was filed that would allow family members or law enforcement personnel to seek an emergency “firearms restraining order” to remove firearms from individuals posing an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) was the leading Republican negotiator for the bill and has now signed on as a chief co-sponsor of the measure.

HB 2354 is the product of months of bipartisan discussions and negotiations, in hopes of putting together a bill that could be a national model for this type of legislation,” said Breen. “Keeping firearms out of the hands of those who would use them to harm others or themselves is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. We’re all outraged over the senseless violence occurring in our schools and other public spaces. But too often we learn later that the offenders showed signs of severe mental instability and expressed a desire to cause harm. With the passage of this bill, Illinoisans will have a means to prevent a dangerous person’s access to firearms, while still respecting folks’ Second Amendment rights.”

Through HB 2354, family members or law enforcement who petition for an emergency order must show that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing harm to themselves or others. If probable cause is established through a court hearing, the judge will enter an order that will allow the Illinois State Police (ISP) to suspend or revoke the Firearms Owner Identification card of the respondent and, if necessary, issuing a search warrant to remove any firearms from the person’s residence.

The respondent must be given a full hearing within 14 days, where it must be proven by strict clear and convincing evidence that the person is dangerous. If so, the emergency order is extended to a six-month order, which may be renewed on continued proof of danger. But if the allegations are not proven at the full hearing, the record of the case is expunged, so as not to do any harm to an innocent respondent. Strict penalties for perjury would also apply to those who would falsely swear out a petition for a firearms restraining order.

“This bill fills a gap in our current law to ensure that firearms are kept out of the hands of those who would do grave harm,” Breen said. “And its specific provisions are carefully balanced to protect civil liberties and prevent misuse of this new firearms restraining order process. Compromise bills like this are possible in Illinois when state lawmakers focus on policy over politics.”