Who Owns a Gun in Illinois? | State’s AG and Associated Press Want to Know

Illinois Attorney General Demands Release of All Gun Owners’ Names

Meredith Jessup| The Blaze

Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Gun owners have the constitutional right to bear arms, but do they have a right to confidentiality?

The state of Illinois is currently weighing this question. On Monday, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office issued a ruling that declared the names of gun permit holders to be public information that must be disclosed. But the agency overseeing such permits — the Illinois State Police — may challenge the ruling in court once it becomes binding.

The Chicago Tribune notes that state police officials have long believed that releasing such information about firearm permit holders would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy and ultimately endanger the lives of gun owners of those who don’t have firearms. But the attorney general disagrees, claiming the public has a “legitimate interest” in knowing who owns a gun.

The debate began after the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last September for the names of each state permit holder and their permits’ expiration dates. When the state police agency denied the AP’s request, the public access counselor intervened.

“The General Assembly has clearly determined that it is in the public interest to provide a system for identifying those who are qualified to acquire or possess firearms through the issuance of FOID [Firearm Owners identification] cards,” assistant public access counselor Matthew Rogina wrote at the time. “The public, therefore, has a legitimate interest in ISP’s enforcement of the FOID card act.”

The attorney general later insisted that addresses and telephone numbers of FOID cardholders should remain private.

On Tuesday, a state police attorney announced that the agency may take the matter to court. Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers are planning to debate legislation that would make the state’s 1.3 million gun owners’ names permanently private.

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