Families, police can seek to distance potentially dangerous people from their firearms

SadnessPEORIA – A new state law that allows authorities to put temporary distance between potentially volatile people and their firearms contains checks to balance individual rights with public safety, State Senator Dave Koehler said today.

The measure, known as a red-flag or lethal order of protection law, was signed Monday. It enables family members and police to alert a judge if they believe a person with access to a firearm could pose a danger to themselves or to the public. If the judge agrees, the court can require firearms to be temporarily removed from the person’s possession.

It passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support.

“This law is a preventative measure that balances the gun owner’s right to due process with the public’s right to be safe from violence,” said Koehler, a Peoria Democrat. “Illinois is empowering families to step in before a loved one causes suffering and destruction that can never be undone. It’s also acknowledging gun owners’ concerns by requiring a burden of evidence before firearms can be removed.”

Under the new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, a family member or law enforcement officer must present clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a significant personal or public danger by having access to a firearm.

If a judge agrees, the court will issue a firearm restraining order that requires the person in question to temporarily relinquish his or her firearms and FOID card to law enforcement. The person also will be barred from purchasing or possessing additional firearms during the restraining period.

Anyone who provides false information in seeking an order would be guilty of perjury.

The legislation is House Bill 2354.

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