On February 15, 2019, one of the worst mass shootings in Illinois history occurred at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois. The shooting resulted in the deaths of four employees and an intern. Five Aurora police officers were also shot in the ensuing gun battle. Numerous others were injured or must deal with the emotional impact of experiencing this tragedy first-hand. The suspect, Gary Martin, who was a former employee of the Henry Pratt Company, never should have been in possession of the laser-sight equipped Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun.
This tragedy was preventable if common sense gun laws already on the books had been enforced by the Illinois State Police, who failed to follow their own internal procedures when it came to Mr. Martin.
Mr. Martin was a convicted felon and violent criminal who never should have been permitted to own any firearm. His violent criminal history, including a felony conviction for beating his girlfriend with a baseball bat and stabbing her with a kitchen knife, was missed by the Illinois State Police when they initially issued Mr. Martin his Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card.
Mr. Martin was then permitted to attend an Illinois State Police authorized concealed-carry training course, which trained him to become more accurate and lethal with firearms. Shortly after completing this class, the Illinois State Police then became aware that Mr. Martin had been improperly approved to own firearms, despite being statutorily disqualified under Illinois law.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of one of the survivors seeks to hold the Illinois State Police accountable for approving Mr. Martin to obtain a FOID card to purchase the handgun in the first place, allowing Mr. Martin to retain the handgun even after it had discovered Mr. Martin was statutorily disqualified from owning firearms, and then failing to inform the local police – the Aurora Police Department – that Mr. Martin was illegally in possession of a handgun, which was a class 4 felony. Because of the Illinois State Police’s failures, the Aurora Police Department was never made aware that Mr. Martin continued to illegally possess this firearm, even though the Aurora Police Department encountered Mr. Martin after the Illinois State Police discovered their mistake, but still long before Mr. Martin engaged in his heinous atrocities at the Henry Pratt Company.
A copy of the lawsuit filed against the Illinois State Police can be found here.