Press Release

Gabby Giffords and Illinois Leaders Launch “Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition” to Urge Legislators to Pass New Proposal That Would Slow the Flow of Illegal Guns

April 28, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Illinois leaders today at the Jesse White Community Center & Fieldhouse to launch the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition to urge the state’s leaders to support a new proposal that will be introduced next week, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which would give state authorities and law enforcement the tools to encourage better business practices among federally licensed gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable to slow the flow of illegal gun trafficking in Illinois and help keep guns out of the wrong hands. Read more about the Gun Dealer Licensing Act here.

According to recent research, 92 percent of Illinois voters support requiring all gun dealers to be licensed by the state.

Negligent gun dealers within Illinois fuel the illegal gun trade. From 2009 to 2013, 40 percent of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from gun dealers within Illinois. But thanks to loopholes in federal law and a lack of federal resources for enforcement, Illinois doesn’t have the tools and authority it needs to combat illegal or negligent business practices that threaten Illinois families.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords in a speech at this morning’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“We are honored to be part of this new coalition of Illinois leaders urging the state’s legislators to take some responsible steps to stem the tide of illegal gun trafficking and save lives,“ said Robin Lloyd, State Legislative Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We thank Senator Harmon and Representative Willis for their responsible, life-saving proposal that will hold negligent gun dealers accountable while protecting responsible dealers and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding people. Gun trafficking and gun violence is a statewide problem that demands a statewide solution.We hope that leaders from both sides of the aisle can come together to act make Illinois safer.”

Illinois is in the grips of a gun violence crisis that claims a life every eight hours. As a state and as a nation, we must do better – and we can start by making it harder for dangerous people to get guns. That means supporting responsible proposal like this one to give our state authorities the tools they need to combat illegal gun trafficking and ensure fewer criminals get a gun,” said Colleen Daley, Executive Director, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “This kind of commonsense step won’t prevent every gun tragedy in our state, but it will help save lives – and we think that’s something worth fighting for. I hope our leaders in Springfield from both sides of the aisle can come together to support this badly-needed change to our laws.”

“This effort is long overdue in Illinois. We’ve been working on these issues for years, and the key thing I’ve learned is this: somewhere in the stream of commerce between a gun manufacturer and a crime scene there is someone purporting to be a law-abiding gun owner, buyer or seller who is anything but,” said Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “This legislation is a commonsense response to a marketplace for guns that has created an epidemic of violence and death, destroying families and communities.”

“The State of Illinois needs to do more to combat gun trafficking and keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said Illinois State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake). “That starts with providing our state authorities with tools they need to encourage better business practices among gun dealers, hold corrupt dealers accountable, and slow the flow of crime guns into Illinois communities. That’s why I’m introducing the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. With the incredible advocates and partners like the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, we will work to get this done.”

The Gun Dealer Licensing Act will strengthen Illinois’ laws and help slow the the flow of illegal guns through a number of small changes to the state’s laws, including:

  • Requiring Criminal Background Checks for Gun Dealer Employees: Gun store employees often have access to huge inventories of guns and it is just common sense to make sure that the dealer and employees are just as responsible as the buyers.

  • Training and Education for Gun Dealers Employees So Our Background Check System Can Work Better: The bill would require training to ensure that dealers and their employees know how to conduct background checks, identify and stop straw purchases, and properly store guns to prevent thefts.

  • Ensuring Gun Dealers Are Held Accountable: IDFPR and law enforcement would have the ability to inspect the inventories of licensed gun dealers, so we can make sure gun dealers are held accountable for missing firearms.

Between 2002 – 2014, 14,273 people were killed with guns in Illinois, nearly three times the number of all U.S. combat troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. A person is killed with a gun in Illinois every eight hours. In 2014, 1,179 people were killed by guns in Illinois.[Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Groups represented in the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition include:

ABJ Community Services

All Saints Episcopal—Chicago

Americans for Responsible Solutions

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Catholic Charities

Center for American Progress

Chicago Board of Rabbis

Chicago Survivors

Chicagoland Brady Chapter

Community of Congregations

Community Renewal Society

Countryside Unitarian Church

Emanuel Congregation

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faith Community of St. Sabina

Greater Institutional AME Church

Gun Responsibility Advocates

Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC)

Howard Area Community Center

Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Illinois Conference of Churches

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV)

Increase the Peace Englewood

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JAC PAC)

League of Women Voters of Illinois

National Gun Victims Action Council

Northwest Suburbs Organizing for America

Open Communities

Organizing Catholics for Justice

Organizing for America Chicago North Chapter

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Parents for Peace and Justice

Peace & Justice Committee Episcopal Diocese of Chicago

Peaceful Communities

People for a Safer Society

Presbyterian Church USA

Progressive Community Church

Purpose Over Pain

Quinn Chapel AME Church

Saint Joseph Anglican—Springfield

Saving Chicago’s Youth

Seabury Western Theological Seminary

St. Felicitas Catholic Church

St. Francis Xavier Parish

St. Joseph Anglican

The Peace & Justice Committee of St. Edmunds

United Church of Christ

United Church of Rogers Park

United Methodist Church