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Gov. Pritzker reforms Illinois firearm laws after Highland Park massacre, critics warn of a 2nd Amendment breach

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker directed state police to put in place the emergency rules change on Monday that could stop people from getting firearms in certain conditions.

The decision will stop those such as Robert Crimo III, the suspected Highland Park shooter who had committed a series of violent threats against others and himself previously, from receiving authorization to legally purchase firearms within the state.

However, critics warn that it could violate the Second Amendment Rights for law-abiding citizens. It also places Illinois State Police unnecessarily in danger by entrusting them with the confiscation of firearms.

Crimo had the opportunity to acquire an Illinois identification card for firearm ownership or FOID card. This is required by state law before a resident is able to purchase or possess firearms despite threats of suicide as well as threats to stab his family members to death in the months prior to his application to get the ID card.

Right: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during an event at the Federal Building Plaza on April 27, 2022 at Chicago, Illinois. Pritzker is an Illinois Democrat and is seeking election in November. Left picture of the booking photo of Highland Park shooting suspect Robert Crimo III. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

One incident resulted in Highland Park police filing a “clear and imminent risk” investigation with the State. This could have resulted in cancellation of Crimo’s FOID and, if he’d have one or refusal of his application even if one was in process. But, as Crimo did not apply until a few months later, and with the written consent of his father the application was accepted.

“For the security of the public and public safety, any FOID applicant who has an existing and clear risk information should be considered when getting their application reviewed,” Gov. Pritzker declared in a press release Monday. “These changes will enable ISP to have a more complete understanding of an applicant’s past and help keep the citizens of Illinois protected from those who are not allowed to possess firearms.”

The state police had stated in the last month that, according to the rules in place in force at that time, they did not have a legal basis to refuse Crimo’s FOID application from December 2019 and “since 2013 administrative rules have unnecessary restricted in complexity” the ability of ISPs to utilize clear and current risk information. For instance administrative rules used an entirely different definition of clear and immediate danger than the state law.

In a video feed of the Lake County, Ill. prison Robert E. Crimo III is seen in front of Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak for his first court appearance on Wednesday, June 6, 2022 at Waukegan, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles R. Arbogast, Pool)

“These amendments to the law of administrative will immediately grant an ISP authorities to evaluate additional evidence when deciding to issue or cancel an FOID card. It will increase the capacity of the ISP to ensure that firearms are not in the hands of criminals,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly.

The decision comes as legal experts have been divided on what the criminal should’ve been allowed to get an FOID card in the first place due to his past. Although only one incident resulted in a distinct and current danger report and both police reports admitted to drug use and could be another reason to deny applicants.

“If ISP was given these police reports, then a decision according to both state and federal law should have been made , and the outcome could have been to cancel (or refuse) firearm civil rights to Crimo,” Fred Nickl who is among the state’s top FOID lawyers said to Fox News Digital. “This could have led to Crimo’s eventual denial of his FOID application. He will have to appeal the decision.”

Robert Crimo III pictured in what the police described as women’s clothes at the time of the Fourth of July parade attack. (Lake County Major Crime Task Force)

The emergency rule changes will be in effect for a maximum of 150 days. Pritzker presented it for approval to Illinois Secretary of State on Monday. It will take effect in 10 days. But, authorities are trying to get it made permanent by having the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules adopt the changes as permanent.

The new rules surpass the obvious and current dangers some of which have sparked controversy. National Police Association spokesperson Betsy Brantner Smith is a former police sergeant who has roots in Illinois said that some of the changes were “knee-jerk,” political and “absurd.”

“You’re likely to see them in the Supreme Court within the next two years,” she told Fox News Digital. “Basically, Pritzker is tasking the Illinois State Police with gun confiscation, which is alarming.”

Crimo shouldn’t have been legally able to purchase firearms under the existing law according to her statement she was caught, and the state’s leaders “got in trouble” and are now working to make changes visible.

Robert Crimo III, 22 He was detained by police after a short car chase. (Katherine Rappel)

“I’m an extremely committed law enforcement officer however, I do not believe that my fellow officers and my sisters in the Illinois State Police should be allowed to seize firearms for what is essentially formal infractions,” she said. “It states that they may remove your firearm in the event that the FOID card you have used expired.”

She also said she is in favor of other measures for public safety – such as the establishment of a stolen gun database, the increased use of fingerprints and the attachment of to the FOID card to an open carry permit.

“The National Police Association, we are the only Second Amendment police association in the United States,” she said. “We believe in an armoured and educated citizens. We understand that police won’t be everywhere. We believe that every citizen should be able to defend their family, their home and family.”

There is a misconception across the country that law enforcement agencies want greater guns.

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