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July 26, 1999

Ryan Signs Bill Outlawing "Straw Purchases" Of Guns

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed a bill to outlaw the so-called "straw purchase" of firearms that received widespread attention with the Colorado student massacre and Illinois hate crime shooting spree occurring earlier this month.

"It's clear that there are pervasive problems with guns landing in the hands of the wrong people," Ryan said. "I am going to sign this bill into law in hopes that we can say never again to the kind of tragic loss that occurred in Illinois and Colorado."

Senate Bill 234 amends the criminal code by creating the new felony crime of unlawful purchase of a firearm. The bill establishes penalties ranging from a Class 4 felony to Class X felony depending on the number of firearms involved in the transaction and may also include a fine up to $250,000 for each violation. Gifts of weapons made in accordance with state law are exempt.

Ryan noted that the bill aims to punish those who buy guns with the intent to give it to a person who has been prohibited by Illinois or federal law from possessing a firearm. When he signed the bill, the governor added a personal message stating he was concerned that the penalty scheme set forth in the bill may not be proportional to penalties in existing law for the actual deliver of a firearm. "It's obvious we need to take a look at the criminal code in Illinois and enforce the law to keep guns away from convicted criminals," he added. Ryan encouraged the General Assembly to review the offense and related issues.

The legislation was sponsored by Senators Patrick O'Malley, R-Palos Park; Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst; Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale; Christine Radogno, R-La Grange; David Sullivan, R-Park Ridge; Ed Petka, R-Plainfield; and Kathleen K. Parker, R-Northbrook. In the House, the legislation was sponsored by Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; Pat Lindner, R-Sugar Grove; Suzanne Bassi, R-Palatine; Bill O'Connor, R-Riverside; and Rep. John Jones.

The bill becomes effective Jan. 1, 2000.


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