Sullivan passes developmental disability FOID updates

sullivan-DD-foidSPRINGFIELD – Brent Nicholson is a hunter and has been his whole life. Growing up, his father took Brent and his brother hunting, Brent passed the hunter safety course as a minor and when he turned 18 he applied for and received his Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card.

Brent carried that FOID card for 13 years until last summer, when the Quincy native received a letter from the Illinois State Police requiring him to surrender his FOID card.

Despite years of safely using a firearm while he was hunting without incident, he was forced to give up his FOID card and his right to hunt with a firearm because he has an intellectual disability. Under a 2013 law allowing concealed carry, FOID rules were updated to exclude people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from using firearms.

A proposal allowing people with mild disabilities to appeal an Illinois State Police decision revoking or denying a FOID was approved by the Senate on Thursday. State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) sponsored the legislation.

“My overriding concern is to balance safety with our Second Amendment rights. This allows people with mild disabilities like Brent to show they are qualified, competent and can safely use a firearm while hunting,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan crafted the proposal with input from the State Police, representatives from the medical community and advocates for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“This helps get rid of the stigma surrounding disability. Hunting is a big part of my brother’s life. It’s something we do together safely and responsibly, and this would let him prove that to the state,” said Brent’s brother Eric Nicholson.

In addition to creating the appeals process, the proposal—Senate Bill 836—would update how developmental disabilities are described under the law to match current medical definitions. It also updates how and when medical professionals must notify the state of someone meeting these criteria.

The proposal passed with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for debate.

Sen. John Sullivan

47th Senate District
Assistant Majority Leader

Years served: 2003 - 2017

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Chairperson); Financial Institutions; Higher Education; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Environment and Conservation; Insurance; State Government & Veterans Affairs (99th G.A.).

Biography: Graduate of Quincy College; partner in family auction and real estate business; lives north of Rushville on the family farm with wife, Joan. They have four children: Matthew, Emily, Luke and Mark.