Tomorrow, May 26, 2016, The Illinois State House is going to vote on House Bill 1016, The Gun Dealer Licensing Act. The state of Illinois, and particularly the city of Chicago needs this bill desperately. Two days ago the Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board wrote an editorial expressing the same opinion: It’s too easy for illegal guns to get into illegal hands – Chicago Sun Times
Allow me to tell you about HB1016, why we need it, and what you can do to make sure that it happens.
Did you know that here in the state of Illinois, gun dealers do not have to have a state license to do business?
Now, let’s think about this for a minute. If you open a McDonald’s, you have to have a license. If you want to braid hair? You have to have a license. If you want to groom dogs and cats, you have to have a license. However, if you sell guns, rather than get a license from the state, you get a Federal Firearms License (FFL). The FFL is then issued and enforced by the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
That doesn’t seem bad right? Well the problem is basically that the ATF has no power to provide any oversight over gun dealers. This is a fact that has been long documented:
The problem with this lack of oversight, and the reason I am blogging on this topic today, is because a handful of gun dealers in the Chicagoland area have taken advantage, and have engaged in business that may not be of the highest caliber. Case in point:
“Although the majority of Chicago’s crime guns come from the other 49 states combined, between 2009 and 2013, just four local dealers supplied nearly 20 percent of the guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes. These stores – Chucks (Riverdale, IL), Midwest Sporting Goods (Lyons, IL), Shore Galleries (Lincolnwood, IL), and Westforth Sports, Inc. (Gary, IN)— are all within a short drive of Chicago and are the source of thousands of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago. By contrast, during that same time period, the average number of guns traced back to all other gun stores was three.
More significantly, a large proportion of the guns sold by several of these stores were recovered in crimes fewer than three years after their original sale – a key indicator that the sale could have involved criminal activity by the buyer or the dealer, as discussed above. On average, roughly 12 percent of any dealer’s guns that are later recovered in crimes in Chicago move from the store to the street within 3 years. Between 2009 and 2013, Midwest Gun in Lyons, Illinois, sold 659 guns that were used in crimes in Chicago, and 333 (approximately 51 percent) of those firearms were recovered within three years of the original purchase at Midwest Gun. Chucks Gun Shop in Riverdale, Illinois, sold 1,516 guns that were used in crimes in Chicago, and 529 (approximately 35 percent) of these guns were recovered within three years of purchase. Chucks alone accounts for a whopping 8 percent of the total number of guns that were recovered and traced to crimes in Chicago in the last five years.” Source: Tracing The Guns: The Impact of Illegal Guns on Violence in Chicago; City of Chicago/Chicago Police Department/Chicago Crime Lab
Did you check that one line about one store selling 1,516 guns that were used in crimes from 2009 to 2013. If you continue on reading the report, you’ll see that the average number of guns used in crimes from an average gun store in the same amount of time is 3.
The store in question, Chuck’s Gun Shop, is fairly notorious on the southside of Chicago, and has been rumored for years to be less than a blameless corporate citizen.
Did I mention that guns from Chuck’s Gun Shop have even been used in the fatal shootings of multiple police officers?
Chuck’s even got some airplay this week in a poignant conversation between Katie Couric and Trevor Noah on the Daily Show:
However, these are only accusations, and although all of the numbers point to these accusations having credence, the fact that Chucks Gun Shop is in Riverdale and not in the city of Chicago, the city has no power to look into their business practices, and Riverdale tuns a blind eye to it. And the state has no oversight because Chuck’s does not purchase a license from the state.And this is why we need HB1016, The Gun Dealer Licensing Act. Very simply, The Gun Dealer Licensing Act gives Illinois the ability to encourage better business practices among gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable. It will help curb a major source of illegally trafficked firearms from entering our communities.
Very simple, just in the same way that business licenses stop restaurants from serving food when rat droppings are in the kitchen. No more, no less. Here is a fact sheet on the bill:
Also, let me tell you what this bill will not do.
- It will not add retail cost to your favorite firearm.
- It will not double the price you pay for ammunition and firearm accessories.
- It will not register your firearms with the state police, ATF, or any other governmental entity.
- It will not prohibit you from purchasing or selling a specified number of guns a year.
- It will not make it financially infeasible for your favorite gun shop to stay in business.
What this bill will do is potentially take 20-40% of crimes guns off of Illinois streets.
So what can you do to help make this bill happen?
1) Call your state legislators right away. The bill could be called for a full vote in the House as early as Thursday morning. Your elected officials need to hear that this is what their constituents want before they vote. If you don’t know who your legislators are, look them up using your zip code here.
2) Talk to your friends and associates and encourage them to do the same.
We can’t afford to be bystanders. I work with youth in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago…for their sakes, I can’t afford to be a bystander, and they can’t afford to not have this legislation become law. We all have a personal responsibility to let our voices be heard, and to fight for what’s right, for the benefit of all.
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