Names of FOID card holders won’t be released

December 09, 2011 at 07:03 AM

PEORIA — A ruling Monday in Peoria County Circuit Court means the Illinois State Police will not have to release the names of more than a million people who hold state firearm owner’s identification cards.

The attorneys for the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Illinois State Police walked into court Monday with an agreement stating the identities of 1.3 million FOID cardholders be exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

They presented Chief Peoria County Circuit Judge Michael Brandt with a three-page document and, with a signature, the lawsuit filed this spring that had both the rifle association and the State Police on the same page was over.

Like the rifle association, the State Police contended any release of names violated one’s privacy but also potentially puts some at risk, noting the State Police often receives FOIA requests from inmates asking about the FOID status of their victims or specific law enforcement officers.

And as such, the association filed for a restraining order in March on behalf of four area association members.

Attorney Matthew Carter, who represented the State Police in the matter, said the injunction signed by Brandt also covers a person who undergoes a background check to buy a gun from another dealer.

“It was conceivable to us that people could get around the FOIA by going this way. This clarifies that those requests can’t be complied with either,” Carter said Wednesday.

He and former Gov. James Thompson, both of the Chicago-based law firm of Winston & Strawn, were appointed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office had ruled last year the names of FOID cardholders are public information that must be disclosed. The ruling came after an Associated Press reporter filed a FOIA request.

That request has since been withdrawn and the AP, initially a defendant in the case, was dismissed from the case in August after the Legislature passed a new law which overturned Madigan’s initial ruling.

Carter said the suit continued because the rifle association and the State Police wanted something more concrete.

“I think that the State Police with some regularity get these FOIA requests,” Carter said. “On the one hand, you can respond to some of them by citing some of the (new law) but this is a a lot stronger and a lot clearer way to respond.

“There is an injunction entered and that ends the matter.”

Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.