Background checks now required
at Illinois gun shows
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[JULY 30, 2005]
CHICAGO -- Taking an aggressive stand
against gun violence, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, joined by Chicago
Mayor Richard M. Daley, signed legislation Friday that closes the
gun show loophole that allowed gun buyers to avoid comprehensive
Senate Bill 1333, sponsored by Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago,
and Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, requires gun sellers at firearm
shows to request background checks for potential gun purchasers. The
new law takes effect immediately.
"Today we celebrate the triumph of common sense and a better chance
at safe neighborhoods -- neighborhoods free from violence,
neighborhoods free from fear," Blagojevich said.
"Before we signed this bill, individuals could attend gun shows
and buy weapons, regardless of their criminal history, putting our
families and our neighborhoods at risk. This law will help keep
dangerous weapons out of criminal hands, making our communities
safer and more secure. People who want to purchase firearms at gun
shows in Illinois will now go through the same important background
checks as people who buy from licensed retail dealers."
Senate Bill 1333 requires gun sellers, who are not federally
licensed firearms dealers, to request background checks from the
Illinois State Police before they can sell guns at gun shows. If it
is determined after a background check that the buyer is qualified
to own a gun, the state police will issue an approval number that is
valid for 30 days, during which time the sale must take place.
Additionally, the seller must retain records of sales for at least
10 years and make those records available to law enforcement
agencies for criminal investigations.
"I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for signing this bill
today, and I commend all the individuals and organizations who
worked so hard for its enactment," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.
"Chicago's crime rate has been dropping for 14 years, and this
legislation will make the city and communities across the state even
safer by making it more difficult for criminals to obtain guns."
"Public safety is not a partisan issue, and we were able to
advance this historic gun control measure with bipartisan support,"
said Osterman, House sponsor of the legislation. "We sent a clear
message that we want these guns off the market for gangbangers and
gun traffickers. Many elected officials, members of law enforcement
and gun control advocates worked on the passage of this legislation
for many years, and I thank them for their efforts. I appreciate the
governor's leadership and thank him for his support."
"The purpose of gun laws is to keep guns out of the hands of
criminals," said Cullerton, Senate sponsor of the legislation. "It
doesn't matter where they make the purchase. The technology is there
to close this loophole that allows the sale of guns to people who
should not have guns, and we should use it."
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department
of Treasury, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and
Explosives reported that between 2,000 and 5,000 gun shows take
place annually, with Illinois being among the top 10 states in
numbers of gun shows. A June 2000 federal study found that almost
26,000 guns recovered after crimes came from gun shows or flea
markets. The federal reports also found that in gun show
investigations felons are associated with selling or buying guns
almost half the time.
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Guns purchased at gun shows have been used in some of this
country's most notorious and deadly crimes, including the 1999
Columbine High School tragedy in Colorado. The two 17-year-old boys
who shot 26 students, killing 13 of them before turning the guns on
themselves, obtained two shotguns and an assault rifle from a friend
who purchased them at gun shows from private sellers. The woman
later stated that had she been required to undergo a background
check at the gun show, she never would have purchased the guns for
"Governor Blagojevich is to be greatly praised for championing
and signing a bill which will help protect our communities from
shootings and killings," said Gary Slutkin, M.D., executive director
of CeaseFire Illinois. "Governor Blagojevich has developed a
successful multifaceted campaign to help our neighborhoods become
safer and more livable -- and residents all over the state are very
grateful to him for these efforts. This is a critically important
step forward in helping to save more lives."
The signing of Senate Bill 1333 builds on the governor's
continuing effort to stop gun violence in Illinois:
In June, the governor signed
House Bill 524, House Bill 132 and House Bill 35, which imposed
harsher prison sentences for individuals convicted of a crime
using a firearm. The bills included mandatory prison time for
second or subsequent offenses.
The governor also signed House
Bill 348, which requires that if anyone attempts to get a
Firearm Owner's Identification Card but is denied, state police
must report the person's name and address to the local law
enforcement agency where the person lives.
The governor announced $3.9
million for Operation CeaseFire programs in Illinois in the
coming fiscal year, including seven $250,000 grants for
communities that will receive funding for the first time. Last
year, Gov. Blagojevich increased funding for CeaseFire to expand
from five Chicago communities to 15 communities around the
In March, the governor created an
elite gun trafficking police unit to stop the flow of crime guns
into Illinois. The gun unit works with federal authorities and
law enforcement agencies from Indiana and Mississippi to detect
and capture gunrunners and illegal dealers. More crime guns flow
into Illinois from Indiana and Mississippi than from any other
- The governor has pushed strongly for the state assault
weapons ban currently being considered by the legislature. The
legislation would ban assault weapons and .50 caliber rifles in
Illinois, which are extremely dangerous weapons. The ban would
outlaw weapons such as UZIs, AK47s and TEC-DC9s.
[News release from
the governor's office]