SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry G. Trent was joined today by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and gun safety advocates seeking to uphold Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s vetoes of Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 2104 and House Bill 340. Backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), these bills, if enacted, would have mandated the destruction of all gun purchase records, eliminated the waiting-period for gun owners trading in weapons, and overridden laws dealing with transportation of firearms in local communities.
“The requirement to delete gun purchase information from the Illinois State Police records poses a significant threat to officer safety. The proposal to destroy gun purchase information removes a vital investigative link that enables law enforcement officers to not only trace illegal firearm purchases, but solve violent crime when a gun was used,” said Trent. “For example, serving a warrant or arresting someone who has multiple weapons requires officers to take precautions. The only way to know how many possible weapons a suspect has is to review those records. We’ve got to send a strong message of our concerns for the safety of police officers across the state.”
During the Spring 2005 Legislative Session, the NRA supported Senate Bill 57, which tied the gun show loophole legislation designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals together with a bill that would mandate the destruction of all records of attempts to purchase guns. Governor Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 1333 earlier this year, which closed the gun show loophole without endangering law enforcement personnel and tying the hands of prosecutors.
“When an officer uses the firearm purchase records, they have access to critical and potentially life-saving information to let them know whether or not the suspect they will be raiding owns a large stockpile of weapons,” Governor Blagojevich said about his decision to veto HB 57. “The data also enables officers to track down the original purchaser of guns used in crimes. Why would we take a valuable public safety tool like that away?”
“I strongly urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote NO on attempts to override Governor Blagojevich’s veto of Senate Bill 57,” said Trent. “Destroying these records endangers the lives of law enforcement officers.”
“While Senate Bill 57 might have closed the gun show loophole, it also contained provisions that required the destruction of the Illinois State Police’s vital gun purchase records which are used by police to investigate gun crimes and prepare for raids on possible gun traffickers,” said Thom Mannard, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “Governor Blagojevich pushed for, and helped pass, Senate Bill 1333, which cleanly closes the gun show loophole without impacting these records.”
This summer Governor Blagojevich vetoed Senate Bill 57 and two other bills that would weaken protections designed to prevent criminals from purchasing and carrying guns: Senate Bill 2104 and House Bill 340, all backed by the NRA.
SB 2104 would have overridden local laws concerning the transportation of firearms. The veto allows many towns and cities across Illinois, including Chicago, that have stricter firearm laws to keep their communities safe by enforcing laws that they deem appropriate. Last week the Senate voted 38-20 to override the Governor’s veto on SB 2104. The veto still must be overridden in the House before the legislation becomes law.
The Governor also vetoed HB 340 because it would have eliminated the waiting-period for gun owners trading in firearms, allowing an individual to trade-in a hunting rifle or small caliber handgun for a military-style assault weapon without delay.
“The Illinois Chiefs of Police requested the Governor to veto Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 2104, and House Bill 340, and he did,” said the Illinois Chiefs of Police Executive Director Jack Pecoraro. “By doing so, he enhanced public safety for Illinois citizens.”
Continuing with his commitment to gun safety, Governor Blagojevich has taken the following steps to ensure Illinois remains safe for all its citizens:
- Signed SB 1333, which closed the ‘gun-show loophole’ by requiring gun sellers, who are not federally licensed firearms dealers, to request background checks from the Illinois State Police (ISP) before they can sell guns at gun shows. If ISP determines, after a background check is conducted, 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 ten years and make those records available to law enforcement agencies for criminal investigations.
- Signed HB 524, HB 132, and HB 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.
- Signed HB 348, which requires State Police to report the name and address of a person who attempted to get a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID card), but was denied, to the local law enforcement agency where the person lives.
- Announced $3.9 million for Operation CeaseFire programs in Illinois, 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 fifteen communities around the state.
- 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 other states to detect and capture gunrunners and illegal dealers. More crime guns flow into Illinois from Indiana and Mississippi than from any other state.
- 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.