Illinois Beefs Up Gun Trafficking Penalties

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Tuesday signed into law a measure that would increase the sentences for illegal gun sales.

People with a record of firearms offenses who try to sell guns will face harsher penalties. The governor says the law targets so-called straw purchasers.

"Now, someone who's bringing guns into the state to sell, just bringing them in for that purpose, we can now go after them and we can prosecute them in a very aggressive way."

Illinois State Police director Leo Schmitz says the measure enhances penalties for firearms trafficking and aims to reduce the growing gun violence epidemic.
 
"This bill will make it so our investigators, our troopers on the road, city police officers can now find out who's bringing guns in and now we have charges to go after them. It'll be upgraded to a Class 1 Felony, and if they bring in a gun with ammunition, we're talking about a Class X Felony. Those are some real time consuming felonies."

The new law will impose a sentence of up to 20 years for a first offense. A subsequent conviction for trafficking guns into Illinois from other states will be punishable by up to 30 years.

A 2014 report from the Chicago mayor's office concluded that nearly 60 percent of the guns used in Chicago are traced to neighboring states where it's easier to buy guns.

Senate minority leader Christine Radogno.
 
"Chicago does in fact lead the nation in the number of firearms that are recovered by law enforcement that are either possessed or purchased illegally. We lead the nation. Perhaps there's a connection to why we lead the nation in terms of firearm violence as well."
 
Illinois requires permits to screen for criminal records and other disqualifiers. The report found that about 20 percent of illegal guns come from Indiana where no permit is required.