How did Gary Martin get the gun he used to kill five people in Aurora, Illinois, last Friday afternoon? Illinois is known for its draconian gun-control laws, including requirements that no one is allowed to possess a firearm unless he or she first obtains a state-issued firearm owners’ identification (FOID) card.
That’s what Martin did in January 2014. He applied, but he lied. On the application a yes or no question was asked about any previous felony convictions. Martin answered “no.”
His FOID card was issued in March, and a few days later he used it to purchase a pistol. He took possession of it after the state-imposed five-day waiting period had ended.
Martin then applied for a concealed-carry permit. That slightly more rigorous background check revealed that he had spent more than two years in a Mississippi jail in 1995 after being convicted of aggravated assault on his ex-girlfriend.
In April, his CCW application was denied and his FOID was revoked. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman explained what happened next: “Once this felony conviction was discovered, the offender’s concealed-carry permit was rejected, and his FOID card was revoked by Illinois State Police.”
Per state policy, Martin was notified by mail that his FOID card had been revoked, stating that he had 48 hours to return it along with proof that he had disposed of the firearm he had purchased with it.
Martin ignored the letter.
Last Friday, following a series of disciplinary actions taken by the company where he had worked for 15 years, Martin was fired. Immediately, according to reports, he pulled out his weapon and started firing indiscriminately. He killed five of his former co-workers and was himself killed following a 90-minute standoff inside the factory where he worked.
Law-enforcement officials were perplexed. Lieutenant Joseph Hutchins, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police, said, “We’re trying to figure out how that happened.” Aurora Police Chief Ziman said, “He was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm.”
Of course not. That’s the assumption by anti-gun politicians, i.e., that people such as Martin aren’t supposed to have a firearm, based on a previous felony conviction. They assume that people like Martin will always tell the truth. They assume further that, when notified that their permission slip has been revoked, they will simply roll over and play the honest citizen, return that permission slip, and dispose of the offending firearm.
WGN-TV has started investigating the matter and asked a local criminal defense attorney, Michael Johnson, what happens next when someone like Martin gets such a letter in the mail. He said, “You’ve got to trust them.”
In its investigation, WGN-TV has already discovered that, in 2014 alone, more than 6,000 citizens had their FOID cards revoked. As of Monday, WGN-TV revealed that the total FOID revocations since then are over 48,000. The Chicago Tribune reported that, in 2016, roughly 11,000 people had their FOID cards revoked, but only about 4,000 had returned them along with proof that they had disposed of their firearms.
What are anti-gunners going to do about that? It turns out that there isn’t sufficient funding for Illinois State Police or Aurora police to go door-to-door to collect the firearms that should have been turned in but haven’t been. Instead of relaxing the worthless laws that criminals such as Martin so easily ignore and allowing honest citizens to exercise their Second Amendment-guaranteed rights, they are likely to call for more stringent enforcement of gun-control laws. In the various reports reviewed for this article, not a single individual at the Henry Pratt Co. factory was armed. Not one. In the four minutes that it took police to arrive, the damage was done. It’s almost too trite to repeat, but, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
The movement to enhance further those restrictions that failed on Friday has already begun. On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune’s editorial lead read: “After Aurora, Illinois has to tighten gun law enforcement.”