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April 20, 2000

Governor Ryan Directs State Police To Help ATF Trace Illinois Crime Guns, Backs "Ballistics Fingerprint" Bill

CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan has directed the Illinois State Police to work with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to ensure tracing of all guns used in all Illinois crimes and endorsed U.S. Rep. Rod Blagojevich's (D-Chicago) bill to create a national ballistics "fingerprinting" system of every gun manufactured in the United States.

Governor Ryan said the Illinois State Police will work with the 900 Illinois police agencies to have all of the guns used in crimes traced by the ATF in cooperation with the State Police Crime Laboratory System.

"With Safe Neighborhoods back on the books, this past weekend, Chicago police charged 31 criminals with felony illegal possession of a weapon," Governor Ryan said. "The ballistics tracing work at this lab allows investigators to discover links between these guns and other crimes like drive-by shootings and murder. Technology which has revolutionized our personal lives is a powerful tool in the war on crime."

Governor Ryan joined U.S. Rep. Blagojevich at the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Center of Chicago where there is a model program of Chicago area, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together to trace guns used in crimes. The visit marked the one-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting spree in Colorado in which 12 students, a teacher and the two teen-aged gunmen died.

Governor Ryan endorsed Blagojevich's bill to require gun makers to record the unique ballistics "fingerprint" of every gun coming off the assembly line. It would be the first step to creating a nationwide database of gun fingerprints, which will help police solve crimes.

"Today, Congressman Blagojevich is introducing this important legislation which seeks to establish centers like this throughout the nation," Governor Ryan said. "His bill would create a national database so that police will know the source of the gun when bullets and cartridges are found at crime scenes.

"And if juveniles are involved in a violent crime, we'll be able to find out how guns got in their hands and aggressively prosecute and harshly punish anyone who gives guns to kids," Governor Ryan said.

Governor Ryan cited startling and sad statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health as evidence that continued leadership is required. Nearly 4 out of 10 of the young people between the age of 18 and 21 who die, are shot to death. About 16 percent of all children aged 17 and younger who die are shot to death.

"It is senseless. It is tragic. We have got to protect our kids," Governor Ryan said.


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