Illinois gun rights focus on lost, stolen weapons

November 2, 2012 3:22:40 PM PDT
Gun rights advocates are battling against a new effort in Illinois to make the names of gun owners public.

Right now, Illinois is the only state in the country that does not have a conceal carry law and police say that is making their jobs more difficult.

In the Chicago Police Department's gun vault 54,000 firearms confiscated over the years are stored awaiting destruction. Assault rifles, shotguns, Uzi's, and the vast majority, handguns. Every year Chicago recovers more guns per capita than any other city in the country.

"I believe the single most important reason is because there's no requirement in the state of Illinois to record the loss, theft or transfer of a firearm," said CPD Supt. Garry McCarthy.

"The gun that shot Del Pearson in March was purchased in Illinois in 1972 by a 52-year-old woman who died in 2006 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Where has that gun been since 1972?"

The superintendent argues it's only reasonable that if someone loses a firearm, has it stolen, sells or transfers it to someone else that they be required to report that to police.

"These things affect the law abiding citizen," he said. "They never have an effect on criminals. I have never seen that in my lifetime."

Jim Vinopal is a long-time lobbyist with the Illinois State Rifle Association. He argues that it is unfair to hold responsible gun owners criminally liable for a lost or stolen gun, especially since it's in their interest to voluntarily report it anyway. And the required reporting of a sale or transfer amounts to defacto state gun registration.

"So why does it have to be in a date base somewhere in Chicago, where anybody in the world could go in and find out who owns what kind of guns and how many of them?" Vinopal said.

"Anytime you talk about this people say, 'They're coming to get our guns,'" said McCarthy. "What we're saying, what I'm saying here is, that's not gun control. That's not telling you (that) you can't own your firearm. What we're saying is when you sell it, lose it or it gets stolen, tell us about it."

Were that to be required by law, the superintendent contends that straw purchases of weapons, legally purchased guns that wind up in criminal hands, would be greatly reduced.

Gun rights activists see that as a faulty premise.

Legislation that would require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms did not get far when introduced last spring.

Its sponsor says he plans to re-introduce when the new general assembly convenes next year.


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