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Illinois Mental Health Database Checks For Gun Owners

By JOHN O'CONNOR, AP Political Writer
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File photo of a person holding a gun. (Photo credit: George Frey/Getty)

Photo: George Frey/Getty

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – A state database unveiled Monday will collect information designed to keep people with mental health problems from having access to guns, just a week after residents began applying for licenses to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the last state in the nation to allow it.

The Department of Human Services announced the system under which mental health professionals must report patients who pose a “clear and present danger” to themselves or others. The information is entered into a database that is checked against the Illinois State Police roster of residents with Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, cards.

Only the state police may revoke a FOID or concealed-carry license.

The program, which replaces one that focused on inpatient psychiatric admissions, takes effect a little more than a week after gun owners began applying for licenses to carry concealed weapons.

“The new concealed carry law broadens the scope of the Illinois FOID Mental health Reporting System, both (in terms of) who must report and what information they must report,” Human Services Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said in a prepared statement. “We are partnering with our sister state agencies and many statewide associations and others to ensure that clinicians and facilities understand the importance of the new reporting requirements.”

As of Monday, 20,194 applications for concealed-carry permits had been deemed eligible to move to a 30-day period in which local law enforcement agencies may object to an application, state police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Those who must be reported to Human Services are those declared in court to be mentally disabled; admitted to an inpatient facility within the last five years; otherwise determined to be a “clear and present danger;” or determined to be developmentally disabled. Also, those who make a serious threat of physical violence or pose an immediate threat of injury to themselves must be reported.

Outpatient clients treated for depression or anxiety will not be reported.

Those required to report people with mental health issues are clinicians; mental health facilities; and other “qualified examiners,” including social workers and counselors, marriage and family therapists and nurses.

The database is then compared with the FOID database. The Illinois State Police must investigate any cases where names appear on both lists. State police officials may deny a FOID card or concealed-carry license application based on the information and state police have the sole authority to revoke FOID cards or licenses.

Officials said only a small number of Human Services staff members are involved in collecting and maintaining the mental health database.

While clinicians are required to report threats to the agency within 24 hours, they also have a duty to warn law enforcement officials so local police can take action too, DHS spokeswoman Januari Smith said.

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