SHOOTER’S PERMIT WAS REVOKED
An Illinois worker who opened fire inside a manufacturing plant had his gun permit revoked, but weapon wasn’t seized.
An initial background check failed to detect a felony conviction that should have barred the man who killed five coworkers and wounded six other people at a suburban Chicago manufacturing plant from buying the gun.
Months later, a second background check of Gary Martin found his 1995 aggravated assault conviction in Mississippi involving the stabbing of an ex-girlfriend. But it prompted only a letter stating his gun permit had been revoked and ordering him to turn over his firearm to police – raising questions about the state’s enforcement to ensure those who lose their permits also turn over their weapons.
A vigil for the victims, including a university student on his first day as an intern and a longtime plant manager, was held Sunday outside the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, about 40 miles west of Chicago. More than 1,500 people braved snow and freezing drizzle to attend.
Martin, 45, was killed in a shootout with officers Friday, ending his deadly rampage at the plant. His state gun license permit was revoked in 2014, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said.
But he never gave up the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun he used in the attack. Investigators are still trying to determine what exactly law enforcement agencies did after that letter was sent, Ziman said.
Illinois lawmakers who support more gun control measures said Martin was able to keep the gun because of a flaw in the 1968 law that requires residents to get a Firearm Owner’s Identification card, or FOID card, to purchase firearms or ammunition. They must pass a background check, but the law does not mandate that police ensure weapons have been removed if a red flag is raised later.
Legislation was introduced in 2016 to require police go to the homes of gun owners who have their FOID cards revoked and search for the weapons, but it failed over concerns it would overtax police depart- ments, said Democratic Rep. Kathleen Willis.
She wants to see a similar measure introduced again.
“Let’s use some common sense. If you have someone with a felony, obviously they are not the best law-abiding citizens who are going to follow through when they get the letter and go, ‘oh yeah, here’s my gun, no problem,’ ” Willis said. “We have to have oversight. That’s the biggest flaw in the whole system. We’re asking people who already have done something wrong, to do something right.”
Last year, Illinois joined other states like California in passing a law that allows family members to petition to have a gun removed from a home and a person’s permit revoked if they believe they might use it to harm themselves or others.
Lawmakers are also working to add teeth to restrictions on the transfers of gun ownership from a person whose permit has been revoked, Willis said. The change follows a 2018 shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House involving a man who had to give his guns to his father after his Illinois FOID card was revoked, but his father later gave them back to him.
Legislators want people who obtain such weapons to sign an affidavit vowing to not return the weapons to the original owner.
Martin was no stranger to police in Aurora, where he had been arrested six times over the years for what Ziman described as “traffic and domestic battery-related issues” and for violating an order of protection.
Crosses are placed for the victims of a mass shooting Sunday near Henry Pratt Co. manufacturing company in Aurora, Ill., where several were killed Friday. Authorities say an initial background check five years ago failed to flag an out-of-state felony conviction that would have prevented a man from buying the gun he used in the mass shooting. He did not surrender the purchased gun as was demanded.