The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and our growing, statewide network of victims, advocates, community leaders, law enforcement officials, business leaders and elected officials fight for the passage of common sense gun laws designed to save lives by keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
According to an April 2013 report of the Center for American Progress, localities in states with weak gun laws tend to suffer levels of gun violence that are far higher that cities and towns in states with strong gun laws. The ten states with the weakest gun laws had 34% higher overall gun murder rates, 88% higher rates of gun murders of women, and 139% higher rates of gun murders of police officers than the ten states with the nation’s strongest gun laws.
STATE OF ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
We hope you will join us in the fight to win support in the Illinois State Legislature for the following legislative measures:
Gun Dealer Licensing
ICHV supports legislation that would require all gun dealers to obtain a state license that holds them accountable for adopting policies and practices proven to prevent the diversion of guns and ammunition into the illegal market. By employing responsible business practices a gun dealer can reduce criminals’ access to guns—and, correspondingly, gun crime, deaths and injuries.
- Gun dealers are crucial gatekeepers that stand as the front line of defense to prevent criminals, and the straw purchasers and traffickers who supply them, from obtaining guns. Most gun dealers, like most gun owners, are responsible people, who want to do all they can to ensure that firearms are only possessed by responsible, law-abiding people.
- Responsible gun sellers know that their families, friends and communities are safer when they keep guns out of the wrong hands. However, a small and unscrupulous group of them are disproportionately responsible for gun crimes that victimize 1,300 Americans each and every day. In fact, 90% of crime guns in the United States can be traced to only 5% of gun dealers — some of the most notorious of which are based right here in Illinois.
- According to a May 2014 report of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, more than 3,000 guns – or nearly 20 percent of all guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 — were sold by just four of the state’s more than 2,000 gun dealers: three in Cook County, including Chuck’s in Riverdale, Midwest Sporting Goods in Lyons, Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood, and Westforth Sports in Gary, IN. The average number of guns traced back to other guns stores was three.
Lethal Gun Violence Order of Protection Act
ICHV supports legislation to create a Lethal Violence Order of Protection (LVOP), which would empower immediate family members who are concerned about a loved one hurting themselves or others. Similar to a domestic violence restraining order, an LVOP law would allow courts to remove a person’s access to guns if he or she poses a significant risk of personal injury to him – or herself or others by possessing guns.
- Family and community members are often the first people to notice that a person is entering a mental health crisis or exhibiting violent behavior – to disarm a potentially dangerous individual. For example: 80% of people considering suicide give some sign of their intention; and 38 out of 62 mass shooters in the last twenty years were reported as displaying signs of dangerousness prior to killings.
- In many recent mass shootings, community members noted warning signs beforehand but there was nothing they could do to remove the shooter’s access to guns before the tragedy. Family members are the people most often in this position, such as the parents of Eliot Rodger, who killed six people in the college town of Isla Vista, California, before killing himself. Rodger’s parents contacted his therapist weeks before his killing spree with concerns about his behavior and YouTube videos, and the therapist contacted the police, who interviewed him. Nothing was done to remove his access to guns, however.
- Similarly, Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed six people and wounded thirteen others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a parking lot in Tucson in January 2011. At one point his parents had become so concerned about his behavior that they took away his shotgun, but they could not take any further action to restrict his access to guns.
Prohibiting Concealed Carry Where Alcohol is Served & in Places of Worship
ICHV supports legislation to prohibit individuals from carrying loaded, concealed handguns in establishments that serve alcohol or in places of worship. Both common sense and research clearly demonstrate that mixing alcohol and loaded, concealed handguns are a deadly combination; and that allowing guns into places of worship defies the sense of peace, safety and security they offer their members.
- As a result of a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling, the State of Illinois was required to enact legislation that would allow individuals to carry loaded, concealed handguns in most public places. While ICHV and the majority of Illinois citizens were opposed to concealed carry, our network fought to ensure that the strongest possible safety measures were included in the law to prevent licenses from falling into the hands of young people, criminals and dangerously mentally unstable individuals.
- While our efforts were successful to ensure concealed carry restrictions in several critical public places such as mass transit, schools and day care centers, the bill passed without providing public protections where alcohol is served and in places of worship.
- Not only have Illinois’ religious leaders come together in opposition to concealed carry in places of worship, but research has repeatedly linked alcohol to violent crime for years.
- A recent Northwestern Medicine study examined the association between proximity to a liquor store and gunshot wounds from 1999 to 2009, finding that a person near a liquor store or tavern on the South Side or West Side is up to 500 times more likely to be shot than another individual in the same neighborhood. The study came on the heels of a recent report by University of California, Riverside sociologist Robert Nash Parker, which found limiting access to alcohol could reduce community violence.
FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
As the nation’s oldest and largest state-run, gun safety advocacy organization, ICHV spends more of our resources fighting for common sense reforms in the Illinois State Legislature, however, we strongly support and participate in advocacy efforts to pass nation reforms as well.
In partnership with national leaders, such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Center for American Progress, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Americans for Responsible Solutions, ICHV supports a federal legislative agenda focusing on:
Universal Background Checks
ICHV strongly supports federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun and ammunition sales in every state. While Illinois passed near universal background check legislation in 2013, studies have demonstrated that the lack of federal regulations make our citizens are vulnerable to the dangers of illegal gun trafficking from states with weaker gun laws.
- A study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab indicated that between 2009 and 2013, 60% of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago were originally purchased in other states – suggesting that interstate gun trafficking is a major source of street guns in Chicago. According to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, this level of crime guns originally purchased in other states is double the nationwide average for portion of interstate crime guns.
Every year, thousands of guns are sold by unlicensed sellers without background checks on the purchasers. This “private sale loophole” results in guns getting into the hands of criminals who would otherwise not be able to buy firearms. Nationwide, 40 percent of gun transactions occur through unlicensed sellers and no-questions-asked private deals that require no background checks. Roughly 20 percent of gun trafficking investigations involve transfers by unlicensed sellers who are not required to conduct a background check.
Requiring background checks for all private handgun sales will reduce this illegal trafficking and allow for reporting and record-keeping similar to the required reporting of gun shops. Closing the “private sale loophole” for handgun sales would mean that all handgun buyers are treated equally and help ensure that persons buying handguns are legally eligible to do so, and it would also help law enforcement track the owners of weapons used in crimes.
95% of Illinois voters support requiring Illinois voters strongly support requiring private background checks before the sale of guns to private individuals. Sixty percent of all voters who are gun owners, NRA members, hunters, and FOID card holders also support this common sense requirement.