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300 southern Illinoisans forced to get rid of guns as part of red flag law enforcement

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Jonathan Ahl
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St. Louis Public Radio
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly speaks while police officers including East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry (far left) look on.

State police this summer forced 300 southern Illinois residents to get rid of their guns and FOID cards.

The move was part of a six-week operation to enforce the Illinois version of red flag laws, which require residents to temporarily turn over weapons and firearm owner ID cards if they are no longer eligible to own guns due to a conviction or court order.

State law enforcement completed checks on more than 700 people in southern Illinois, including the Metro East, as part of the effort. Gun owners can transfer the weapons to a relative or friend to be compliant with the law; they aren’t required to turn the firearms over to police.

Brendan Kelly, director of the Illinois State Police, said during a Wednesday news conference in Collinsville that the checks are “not about confiscating guns, but about ensuring that individuals that lost their firearms rights transfer their firearms to law enforcement or someone who is legally able to possess them."

Local law enforcement welcomed the effort. East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry says the state needs to do more of these kinds of enforcement actions.

“This is one of the biggest things we need as far as deterring our high crime rate, with violent offenders, felons with FOID cards and people who have had their FOID card privileges revoked but still possess firearms,” Perry said.

Kelly said that his state department will continue to work to enforce the red flag laws but that those laws are less effective in communities like the Metro East that border a state with less restrictive gun laws.

“We will do everything in our power to prevent mass shootings and gun violence of any kind,” Kelly said.

A more permanent East St. Louis presence

Illinois State Police are close to releasing plans for a long-term, physical presence in East St. Louis. The details of what the facility may be and how many police officers will be located there are unclear, but Kelly said during the news conference that his department and local officials are in agreement.

“I don’t think there are any sticking points at all,” Kelly said. “We’re all on the same page, and I hope they are going to have some good news to announce in an official way at the appropriate time. So that’s a sneak preview.”

With crime rising and a shortage of local officers on the street, state police launched a partnership with East St. Louis police last year. The first full year of that partnership saw a 25% decrease in homicides in the city.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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