Illinois Lawmakers Pass Gun-Trafficking Bill

     CHICAGO (CN) — A new firearms-trafficking bill targeting straw purchasers was unanimously passed by both houses of the Illinois Legislature and is waiting for the signature of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
     Straw purchasers can’t legally buy guns themselves and use another person to get a hold of them through other means.
     The bill was drafted by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and would “create an additional tool for law enforcement,” to go after those who are selling guns on the black market, according to her office’s press release.
     It creates a new criminal offense, making it a Class I felony to bring firearms or ammunition into Illinois with the intent to sell or transfer it to someone else, and a Class X felony if the person has previous firearms-related convictions.
     A University of Chicago Crime Lab study published last year showed that most guns used in crimes in the Windy City aren’t purchased or stolen, but are obtained “on the street.” In its survey of Cook County Jail inmates, the Crime Lab found that 70 percent of them obtained guns through social connections like friends, family and gang members.
     The inmates said they purchase, rent and borrow guns from others and gang leaders organize trips out of state, often to Indiana, to obtain a cache of firearms to hand out to their members.
     According to the Alvarez’s press release, 60 percent of the guns recovered from crime scenes in 2010 had originated outside of Illinois.
     The University of Chicago study also showed that police presence does affect the purchase of guns, with inmates reporting that firearms are rarely obtained from strangers or mere associates due to the risk that they may be an undercover cop or a “snitch.”
     By the end of March of this year, shootings in Chicago were up 88 percent compared to the same three months in 2015, which ended with 2,988 people being shot. This year 1,587 people have been shot so far, according to news reports.
     “We know that illegally trafficked guns contribute directly to the excessive rate of gun crime here in Chicago and we must continue to work to identify and implement new strategies that target these offenders,” Alvarez said in a statement. “With shootings and gun violence at epidemic levels here in Chicago, this measure could not come at a more important time. I thank all of the bill sponsors and urge the Governor to sign this important new legislation.”

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