As many as 30,000 guns may still be in the possession of Illinois residents deemed too dangerous to have them, the Chicago Tribune reports. Analyzing data released for the first time, the Tribune found the state has failed to ensure that people surrender their weapons and gun permits after their Firearm Owner’s Identification cards are revoked, resulting in the breakdown of a system put in place to deter gun violence. Nearly 27,000 Illinois residents over the past four years have not informed authorities what they did with their guns after state police stripped their licenses. That means law enforcement has no idea whether 78 percent of revoked cardholders since 2015 still possess guns.
The uncertainty has created a public safety risk that has been compounded for decades by antiquated policies and limited law-enforcement resources, the Tribune says. Among those with dismal compliance rates are people convicted of domestic violence or who had cards rescinded because of mental health concerns. The broken system was exposed in February, when a disgruntled employee opened fire at an Aurora warehouse, killing five co-workers and wounding five officers before dying in a shootout with police. The gunman, convicted felon Gary Martin, had his card revoked in 2014 but was never forced to relinquish the handgun he used in the shooting. The analysis of Illinois State Police data shows that the failure by state and local authorities to follow up on revocations and account for firearms is happening in every county in Illinois. “I will say the depth and breadth of the problem did take me back just a bit,” said acting Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. “The only way we are going to be able to take a bite out of this problem is just laying it all out there: the good, the bad and the ugly.”