Sparked by the recent wave of school shootings, the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act aims to prevent shootings and suicide by giving people the ability to file a court petition to remove firearms from anyone giving off red flags that they are an “immediate and present danger.”
A family member or law enforcement agent has to file the petition, which targets those whose mental status may change suddenly. Illinois already has a law in place barring those with mental illness to purchase guns.
If the petition is granted, that person will have to turn over all firearms along with his or her firearm owner’s identification card or concealed-carry license.
Introduced in February and backed by both Democrats and Republicans, the bill quickly passed both houses of the Legislature by the end of May and was sent to Governor Rauner, a Republican, two weeks ago.
“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,” State Representative and bill co-sponsor Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake, said in a release. “Signing this bill will save lives.”
State Senator Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, another co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that the new law creates “an official process and outlet for anyone to speak up, identify and prevent a troubled individual from committing a horrifying act.”
“It’s my hope we can begin to stop future tragedies before they start and set a proactive example in Illinois that shows we take our residents’ safety seriously,” he said.
Even the Illinois State Rifle Association is on board. Its president Richard A. Pearson issued a statement to members calling the law “a proactive approach to temporarily remove firearms from the people that potentially would do harm to themselves or others, while insuring due process for all involved.”
“We applaud the governor for taking action to save lives,” Pearson added.
Governor Rauner also signed another law Monday enacting a 72-hour waiting period before the purchase of any firearm.
“Everyone agrees that we need to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would use them to commit acts of violence against themselves or others,” Rauner said in a statement. “These two laws are a commonsense approach that gives us tools to limit access to guns and perhaps save lives while we continue to respect constitutional rights.”