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posted on 8/5/22

We now know that the Highland Park Shooter was able to apply for and receive a gun permit in Illinois. Reports have noted numerous red flags in the personal history of the Highland Park shooter, noting that these brushes with law enforcement could have prevented him from acquiring a weapon. So, what happened? How was the shooter able to acquire a weapon and bypass the red flag laws designed to prevent people with violence and mental health issues in their pasts from owning firearms in Illinois?

Highland Park Shooter’s Violent Past

In 2019, the Highland Park shooter was involved in a police incident after he threatened to kill members of his family. The police confiscated 17 knives and a sword from his apartment. No guns were found at the scene. The knives were returned to the shooter’s father shortly after confiscation. Less than a year later, the suspect was able to acquire several guns after his father sponsored him for a FOID card. These were the guns he used to open fire on the Highland Park Fourth of July parade.

Since no arrests were made and no involuntary commitment was ordered, the matter never made it to the attention of Illinois State Police, who process FOID applications. At the time of the incident in 2019, the shooter would have been named a clear and present danger, but there were no FOID applications to deny, and at the time, the suspect did not have a FOID card to revoke.

Family members did not want to press charges or ask for a mental health detention, so the matter was closed. The Highland Park Police did file a clear and present danger report on the shooter and forwarded it to the Illinois State Police, per state law. The report stated that the police had responded to a mentally disturbed individual making threats against his family, that the family did not want to press charges in the matter, and that the weapons were removed from the suspect’s home.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The balance of interests in a case like this goes as follows. Every individual has a constitutional right to own guns. The government has a duty to protect citizens from mass shooters. How do we prevent mass shootings while still ensuring everyone’s constitutional rights? If you have a criminal record, even as a juvenile, you may be prevented from getting a FOID card. Had the suspect been convicted of assault or another similar crime after the 2019 incident, he may not have been able to succeed in his FOID application, but as we now know, no charges were filed at the time.

Talk to a Gun Crimes Attorney in Chicago

Weapons-related crimes are being pursued much more aggressively in Illinois than they were in the past. If you need representation for a criminal charge in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is uniquely qualified to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.