SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Legislation bolstering the Illinois state police's resistance to disclosing the names of registered gun owners has been sent to Gov. Pat Quinn.
In a victory for gun owners over advocates of open government, the Senate voted 42-1 to overturn a ruling earlier this year by Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office that the names are public under the Freedom of Information Act.
"I don't believe we should give burglars a map to systematically burglarize our homes and farms," said Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, the main sponsor of the bill. "Constitutionally and from a law enforcement perspective, these names should remain private."
The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn. The Democrat said in Chicago he agrees the information should be confidential.
Madigan's office issued the decree after the Illinois State Police refused to release to The Associated Press the names of 1.3 million people who are registered to own firearms.
The Illinois State Rifle Association sued the state police and the AP in Peoria County trying to block release of the names. The state police agreed with the rifle association's position. That lawsuit is on hold.
The AP sought the records under the Freedom of Information Act to, among other things, review governmental action.
"These records and open access to government officials help shine a light into the dark places where wrongdoing can occur, and historically always has," said Michael Oreskes, the AP's senior managing editor for U.S. news.
"The actions of government should be transparent to all, which is why we sought the FOID cards and will continue to seek other government records in the future."
Anti-violence groups agreed the information should be public to help determine whether cards have gone to people who shouldn't have them.
But concerns that criminals would use the information to target gun-owners or those who aren't armed, an argument Madigan's office rejected, won the day in the Senate, as it did 98-12 in the House last month.
"I worry that if this list was made public, we would be creating a situation that singles out certain groups of citizens and their families for criminals to target," said Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, a co-sponsor of the bill.
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