CHICAGO — State lawmakers and domestic violence prevention groups are pushing a bill that would clarify and strengthen policies for confiscating a person’s gun if they are subject to an order of protection.
Karina’s Bill is named for Karina Gonzalez of Little Village, who was killed in July. Prosecutors charged her husband, Jose Alvarez, with fatally shooting Gonzalez and their 15-year-old daughter, Daniela Alvarez, and wounding their 18-year-old son, Manny Alvarez.
Prosecutors have said Jose Alvarez had a history of verbally abusing Gonzalez. Gonzalez took out an order of protection against her husband two weeks before her death, prosecutors said.
Alvarez’s FOID card was revoked because of the protective order, but authorities never served him or removed his Glock 17 9mm-handgun from the home, attorneys said during his bond hearing.
Alvarez was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm. He remains in custody without bail.
During a news conference Thursday, lawmakers and advocates said Karina’s Bill would give law enforcement a clearer directive to seize guns from people who lose their FOID card with an order of protection.
Amanda Pyron, executive director of the Network Advocating Against Domestic Violence, said her group worked with lawmakers to draft the bill. Victims of domestic violence often are at even higher risk when they file an order of protection, since an abuser may be alerted “they’re losing control,” Pyron said.
The risk of intimate partner homicide increases 500 percent when abusers have access to a gun, Pyron said.
“Simply put, when survivors go to the courts for protection, we have to make sure that protection works,” Pyron said. “Karina’s Bill makes common-sense changes that can help us save the lives of domestic violence survivors here in Illinois. Too often, firearms turn a dangerous domestic violence situation into a deadly one.”
Maralea Negron, director of policy, advocacy and research at the Network Advocating Against Domestic Violence, said under the current law, judges don’t have “the backing of our current statute” to order law enforcement to remove guns in the moment when they serve orders of protection.
Illinois enacted a “red flag” gun law in 2018 that gives courts authority to use emergency orders to remove guns from people who are a danger to themselves and others. Yet, Illinois and other states historically have rarely used such emergency orders, according to an Associated Press analysis.
The issue has come under even more scrutiny since the Fourth of July parade mass shooting in Highland Park in 2022, the Tribune reported.
“Judges are checking that box, but there’s no enforcement happening because they don’t have the full statutory authority,” Negron said. “It’s really a clarification so that law enforcement has what they need — which is a search warrant — to remove those firearms, and judges have what they need to grant that [firearm removal] remedy and make sure that it is fully in effect for the petitioners that are requesting it.”
Karina’s Bill also would close a “firearm ownership transfer loophole,” meaning people whose FOID card is revoked can’t sign over their weapons to other legal gun owners who may reside in the same home, Pyron said. The bill would add dating partners and ex-partners to the firearm restraining order act, she said.
Karina’s Bill is sponsored by Rep. Maura Hirschauer and Sen. Celina Villanueva, who both said they look forward to working with other lawmakers and law enforcement to finalize the bill’s language and pass it later this month.
The order of protection process is “failing” to help survivors of domestic violence, especially when guns are involved, Hirschauer said.
“We cannot have any ambiguity about this process. The stakes are too high,” Hirschauer said. “I am going to do everything in my power when we go to session in the next few weeks to ensure this bill is passed.”
Villanueva, whose Little Village district office is just blocks away from where Gonzalez and her daughter were killed, said their deaths were “horrific” and they never should have happened.
“Manny, I’m sorry,” the lawmaker said to Gonzalez’s son, who attended Thursday’s press conference to support the bill honoring his mother.
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