Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) spearheaded a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan denouncing her directive to mandate that the Illinois State Police publicly release the names of all Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) cardholders in the state of Illinois. Schock was joined in this effort by a bipartisan majority, 12 of the state's 19 Congressman, of the Illinois Congressional delegation.
This issue arose when a reporter from the Associated Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out the names of all FOID cardholders in the state of Illinois. On March 1, 2011, the Attorney General's office sent a letter to the legal counsel of the Illinois State Police mandating that they publicly release the names of all FOID cardholders in the State of Illinois in response to the state police's denial of the FOIA request. In Illinois, the state police are responsible for who gets Firearm Owners Identification Cards, but that information has always been kept confidential.
"This is an unbelievable violation of personal privacy," said Schock. "The state police took the appropriate action in this case by denying the FOIA request. There are serious safety concerns that must be taken into consideration when releasing any type of personal information and that includes information involving firearms."
In the letter, the bi-partisan group of Congressional members stated, "We greatly disagree with your directive, and respectfully ask you to rescind your decision there is no need to release this information to the general public, and doing so would be an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of many of our constituents."
The letter goes on to state that "releasing this information could be rather devastating, not only to gun owners, but also to non-gun owners. This could be comparable to the State releasing a list of everyone who does not have an alarm system in their home. While this idea might sound great to a criminal, we would prefer to side with law-abiding Illinoisans and their families, who would not like such information to be made available to the general public, as it is not in the public's interest."
There are currently 1.3 million FOID cardholders in Illinois. There is currently legislation that has been filed in both the state senate and house that would ensure the privacy of the state's cardholders is not violated and remain permanently private. The Illinois State Police are not alone in their opposition to releasing such information; the Illinois Sheriff's Association has voiced their opposition to releasing such information as well.
"Lawful gun owners in our state should not have to live in fear that the state of Illinois could jeopardize their personal safety. I believe the Attorney General's focus should be on those who have actually broken the law, instead of attacking law abiding citizens by criminalizing a Constitutional right." added Schock.