Gov. Pat Quinn Sunday signed a new gun safety law that requires background checks for all gun purchasers statewide as well as the reporting of all lost and stolen guns for the first time in Illinois history.
The new law was signed at the South Side's Nat King Cole Park, most recently known as the site of a Fourth of July shooting that left a 7-year-old boy in critical condition.
The park was also the location of the 2010 shooting death of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV in an apparent robbery attempt.
“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn said in statement. “As I said in my State of the State address earlier this year, making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe.”
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mike Zalewski and Sen. Kwame Raoul, closes the background check loophole for the sale or transfer of a firearm from a private party and requires all eligible firearm owners to report loss or theft to local law enforcement within 72 hours of obtaining knowledge of the firearm’s absence.
It was strongly advocated by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
“Gun trafficking is the single greatest threat to our public safety,” Senator Raoul said in a statement. “I’m proud to have brought together lawmakers with very different perspectives on guns to pass a law that finally moves Illinois toward universal background checks and gives law enforcement a fighting chance against the flood of deadly weapons entering our neighborhoods illegally.”
Prior to the law, the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act only applied to licensed firearms dealers and sales at gun shows between private parties or by federally licensed firearms dealers.
Private sellers were not required to check whether or not a purchaser had a valid FOID card, a loophole the new legislation closes.
The law also requires the Illinois State Police to develop an internet-based system for individuals to determine the validity of a FOID card prior to a sale or transfer of a firearm.
“Now more than ever we need all of the help that we can get to target those arming the criminals who are perpetuating this cycle of gun violence,” Alvarez said in a statement.
Quinn, a firm supporter of gun control, initially pushed for the legislation during his fourth State of the State address in February, shortly before Illinois became the last state in the country to allow firearms to be carried in public.
Illinois joins Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia in requiring the reporting of lost and stolen guns to law enforcement.
The reporting requirement for lost and stolen guns takes effect immediately. The new background check system will take effect Jan. 1.