Press Release

Gabby Giffords Applauds Illinois Lawmakers for Passing Bill to Slow the Flow of Illegal Guns

Bill Promotes Safer Practices for Gun Dealers, While Holding Corrupt Ones Accountable

Washington, DC –  Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, applauded the Illinois House of Representatives for passing a bill that better protects communities from gun violence. The Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657), would help curb the flow of illegal guns within Illinois. The bill has been sent to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner.

The Illinois House of Representatives also considered a larger package of gun violence prevention legislation, including a critical lethal violence protective order bill that would create a process for temporarily prohibiting a person who is in danger of hurting themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:  

“Lawmakers in Illinois understand the challenges we face when addressing gun violence in our communities. The illegal trafficking of firearms in Illinois causes too many communities to experience heartache and pain. Today, elected officials on both sides of the aisle had the courage to step up and act. I am thankful for the tireless leadership of Senator Don Harmon and Representative Kathy Willis, and all members of the Illinois General Assembly, who worked so hard to get this bill passed. I call on Governor Rauner to sign this bill.”

The bill, backed by Giffords, would give state authorities and law enforcement the tools to encourage better business practices among federally licensed gun dealers, and hold corrupt dealers accountable. This will help slow the flow of illegal gun trafficking in Illinois, and help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

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.

The Gun Dealer Licensing 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: 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.

  • 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.

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 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 the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. Captain Mark Kelly also met with leaders in Illinois last spring to advocate for the bill which will help reduce the illegal trafficking of firearms through straw purchasers, keeping guns out of the wrong hands.