Illinois Gun Bill Adds Tougher Penalties For Traffickers

Illinois’ gun bill HB 6303 has been signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner, and it might slow down illegal gun trafficking in the state. Tuesday, Rauner held a signing ceremony, which was attended only by Republicans – Democrats and police officials skipped the event without a real explanation.

The gun bill was sponsored by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, a former assistant state’s attorney, who claims that prosecutors often complained about existing penalties, which were not severe enough to punish gun traffickers.

HB 6303 makes it possible for judges to deliver harsher sentences to the person, who buys the gun illegally imported to Illinois and the person selling it. Data showed that there were 442 homicides in Chicago so far this year and 6-in-10 guns used to commit those violent crimes were purchased outside of the state. The reason?

It is easier for criminals to purchase weapons in the states surrounding Illinois because they have softer gun policies and little screening. It has been proven that 20 percent of illegal guns that enter Illinois came from Indiana where no permit is required. After Indiana, the largest suppliers of weapons in Illinois are Mississippi and Wisconsin, which are responsible for 6.7 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

In Illinois, to become a legal gun owner, a person must go through a lengthy process. Anyone, who sells a gun either privately or commercially, is obligated to perform a background check on the buyer. The state also requires that all gun holders obtain a FOID card to buy guns and ammunition.

The new gun law carries a very harsh sentence of 4 to 20 years in prison for the first conviction for trafficking guns. The second offense will be punishable by up to 30 years.

A handful of organization and politicians slammed the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois said: “the sentences are too severe and that there is already a federal law on the issue.” Durkin replied by saying the bill does not go far enough. He said:

“That doesn’t get the job done. All of our communities are at risk of gun violence. We in Illinois are suffering.Our children are at risk, innocent people at risk.”

He added:

“There’s never been a major focus on who arms the shooter,they’re going to be held accountable and they’re going to be sentenced in a very strong fashion.”

Rauner hit back at critics, who stated that the federal government, should be the one handling gun legislation. The governor said:

“I’ll be very candid.I believe very strongly in this bill. I have not discussed federal policy and I really don’t want to get into federal policy. There are a lot of things there that, you know, I’m 100 percent focused on Illinois. This bill is very good policy for Illinois.”

Experts believe the new bill will not do much to fix the situation.

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