In his first week in office, Governor Pritzker signs bill to stop illegal gun trafficking
January 17, 2019 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, applauded Illinois Governor JB Pritzker for prioritizing gun safety during his very first week in office. Today, Governor Pritzker signed the bipartisan Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act, which strengthens regulations on Illinois gun dealers to curb the flow of illegal guns within Illinois into law. Originally passed in May 2018 by the Illinois General Assembly and blocked by then-Governor Rauner, Pritzker’s signing makes clear he’s committed to reducing gun violence in Illinois. The final passage of this new law comes after three years of partnering with state and local advocates to support and advance the legislation.
“Illinois finally has a Governor who understands that gun violence is a public safety threat that requires action – not silence,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “I am proud of the Illinois legislature and Governor Pritzker for working together to respond to demands from Illinois families. Together, they are taking action to curb gun trafficking and make communities safer places to live, work and play. Governor Pritzker is beginning his tenure by making it clear that saving lives from the country’s gun violence epidemic will be a defining issue for his administration. We look forward to working with him and the rest of Illinois’s leaders on additional initiatives to build a bridge to a safer future in Illinois.”
The new law gives state authorities and law enforcement the tools to encourage better business practices among federally licensed gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable in the state to better keep guns out of the wrong hands. The signing of the bill highlights a shift in Illinois state government to address gun violence—Governor Pritzker’s predecessor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a similar bill even after lawmakers and residents across the state called for him to approve it.
Negligent gun dealers within Illinois fuel the illegal gun trade. From 2013 to 2016, 40 percent of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from gun dealers within Illinois. 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. 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.
The Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act will address this issue through a number of 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: 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.
- Security: Incorporate industry best practices to require video surveillance for brick and mortar locations, and require a copy of the purchaser’s firearms identification card to be kept on record.
In 2016, Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords helped launch the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, which brought together gun violence prevention advocates, faith leaders, medical professionals and others to urge support for common sense gun violence prevention policies, including provisions that became the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act. Captain Mark Kelly also met with leaders in Illinois to advocate for the proposal to help reduce the illegal trafficking of firearms through straw purchasers, keeping guns out of the wrong hands.