Rep. Windhorst Questions Constitutionality of Sweeping Gun Control Bill

Springfield….During a contentious hearing of the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday morning, State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) used his time to skewer the House sponsor of SB 1966 Amendment 1 during a line of questioning regarding Constitutionality of certain provisions of the far-reaching legislation. In particular, Windhorst questioned the bill’s plan to collect fingerprints from all FOID card applicants.

Rep. Windhorst began his line of questioning this way:

“Are you aware of any other Constitutional rights that require fingerprinting?” Windhorst asked.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), of northern Illinois’ DuPage County, simply replied, “No, I am not.”

Windhorst then asked Rep. Willis about privacy and security concerns regarding the bill’s requirement that the Illinois State Police maintain a database of more than 2.3 million fingerprints for every person that applies for a FOID card.

“Does anyone here know if the State has a database of 2.3 million peoples’ fingerprints for any other purpose than for possessing a firearm?” Windhorst asked the assembled Committee panel. “Do you know how large that database is? Any estimate?”  

The answer to all of Windhorst’s questions was no. A frustrated Windhorst commented following the bill’s passage on a 9-6 strict party-line vote, with Windhorst and his Republican colleagues on the Committee casting resounding no votes.

“The bill’s sponsor and supporters saw no Constitutional issues with the State of Illinois maintaining a massive statewide database of law-abiding gun owners’ fingerprints,” Windhorst said. “I continued to push the sponsor to see how far she was willing to go. I asked if she would support a mandatory statewide database of fingerprints for every Illinois citizen. Incredibly, her answer was, ‘yes.’”

For his part, Windhorst says he has major doubts that the people of Illinois would ever support, for any reason, a statewide fingerprint database for non-criminal, law-abiding gun owners, or an even more outrageous statewide mandatory fingerprint database for every single Illinois citizen.

“As Massac State’s Attorney, and as 118th district State Representative, I raised my hand and sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I will not support legislation that takes direct aim at Constitutional Rights and protections. The Bill of Rights is not a menu from which to pick and choose.”

SB 1966 now awaits action on the House Floor with just 9 days to go before the House’s scheduled May 31st adjournment.