SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to promote handgun safety for Illinoisans, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation requiring that all handguns that are sold by federally licensed firearms dealers in Illinois include a safety lock. Senate Bill 1832, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Graham (D-Oak Park) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), comes after the Governor signed legislation closing the gun show loophole on Friday. SB 1832 is effective January 1, 2006.
“Children’s natural curiosity can have tragic consequences when they are able to get their hands on guns. By making sure every handgun sold is accompanied by a safety lock, we can prevent the kind of accidental shootings that have taken so many young lives and devastated so many families,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The new law requires that any handgun sold or traded in the state of Illinois by a federally licensed firearms dealer must include a safety lock of some kind. This can be either an external device that attaches to the handgun with a key or combination lock or an integrated mechanical safety, disabling, or locking device that is built into the handgun. Either method is designed to prevent the handgun from being discharged without first deactivating the lock.
“This legislation stems from an incident in my district where a young boy found his father’s gun and accidentally killed himself,” Rep. Graham said. “I hope that accidents like this are prevented by the signing of Senate Bill 1832 and I applaud Governor Blagojevich for his efforts in making Illinois a safer place for children.”
Approximately 40% of American households with children have a gun, which translates to 22 million children in 11 million homes across the United States. Of gun-owning households with children, one quarter only "occasionally" lock and store the bullets in a separate place from the gun. This level of access to firearms led to more than 1530 children killed from firearm accidents between 1996 and 2001. Gun safety locks may have prevented some of these deaths.
"Even one accidental death being prevented thanks to safety locks is well worth it," said Tom Vanden Berk, a board member of the Illinois Brady Campaign. "Protecting our children from guns is of the utmost importance, and no one understands that better than parents who have lost a child."
“The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence applauds Governor Blagojevich for signing this legislation. Clearly, unlocked handguns in a home pose a serious danger to those in the home,” said Thom Mannard, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “Just recently a two year old boy in Bellwood was accidentally shot and killed by a gun that had been left loaded and unlocked in his home. It is our hope that this law will help prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future.”
Violators of the new law will face penalties of up to 6 months in jail and a minimum fine of $1000. Second or subsequent violations lead to up to one year in jail.
The latest legislative session was extremely productive for improving public safety across the state, including the following measures:
- On Friday the governor 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.
- In June, the governor 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.
- The governor also 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.
- The governor announced $3.9 million for Operation CeaseFire programs in Illinois in the coming fiscal year, 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.
- In March, the governor 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 Indiana and Mississippi to detect and capture gunrunners and illegal dealers. More crime guns flow into Illinois from Indiana and Mississippi than from any other state.
- The governor has 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.