McSweeney proposes measure to keep guns away from those with mental illness

March 29, 2018

By Chacour Koop

Illinois police officers could take guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others under legislation sponsored by a Barrington Hills Republican.

State Rep. David McSweeney introduced the measure he said will help law enforcement proactively pursue people who may do harm with their firearms. He said the legislation will prevent people with mental illnesses from obtaining and keeping firearms.

The Republican's legislation joins a flurry of other gun control bills introduced in Springfield this year, none of which have become law.

Two weeks ago, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a plan for state licensing of gun shops, saying it would duplicate federal licensing. Other proposals include a ban on possessing assault-style weapons under age 21, prohibition of bump-stocks and trigger cranks and a longer wait-period for delivery of assault-style rifles.

Under McSweeney's proposal, a circuit court could issue a warrant to search for and seize a firearm in possession of a person believed to pose a clear and present danger to themselves or others.

To obtain the warrant, a police officer would have to provide a sworn affidavit making the case for seizing the gun. The affidavit must also describe the location of the firearm. A judge would have to agree there is probable cause to believe the gun owner poses a "clear and present danger."

The legislation requires the gun owner be allowed a hearing within 14 days of receiving a complaint. The hearing would determine whether the gun should be returned or retained by the law enforcement agency.

McSweeney said the legislation would not infringe on constitutional rights to own guns.

"We need to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to help prevent potentially dangerous individuals from the unnecessary risk of harm to themselves or others with a firearm," he said in the statement. "We can do that while maintaining a respect for an individual's Second Amendment rights and that is exactly what my legislation does."

McSweeney has also introduced legislation to allow tougher sentencing for people convicted of using a gun in the commission of first-degree murder. The proposal would allow judges and juries to consider the use of a gun as an aggravating factor in determining prison sentences. Under state law, drive-by shootings can be used as aggravating factors in first-degree murder sentencing.

The proposals have not yet been assigned to a legislative committee. The bills are HB 5849 and HB 5847. McSweeney is the only sponsor on both bills.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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