As President Biden announces ghost gun regulations, Illinois lawmakers work to close loophole

What are ghost guns, and are they legal?
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- President Joe Biden announced new regulations on so-called "ghost guns" Monday, but Illinois lawmakers already voted to ban them over the weekend.

Ghost guns are firearms that are made from kits that can be ordered online and assembled in minutes.

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Commercially produced guns have serial numbers. Ghost guns don't. But both pose the same danger to police and the public.

"We'll do everything in my power to crack down on gun trafficking of ghost guns," Biden said.

Commercially-produced guns have serial numbers, but ghost guns don't. Both pose the same danger to police and the public.

"A ghost gun or not, you should have a serial number, right? There's got to be a traceable way to know what's out there and have accountability," said William Tse, whose father Woom Sing Tse was shot and killed by a man armed with a ghost gun in December in Chinatown. "I can't see why an individual or anyone would want a ghost gun unless it's for the wrong purpose."

"These guns can be built in somebody's basement," Aurora police officer Jay Leonardi said, "and a lot of times, these people don't have a lot of education with guns, they can just go online and look at video."

Just off the beat Monday, Leonardi told the I-Team ghost guns are a growing menace for all of us.

"The Aurora Police Department has recovered numerous ghost guns just in the past week," Leonardi said. "The ghost guns are made to look like an actual gun. If you were to see somebody pull out a ghost gun, you would probably not know the difference."

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart lobbied Illinois lawmakers to pass the bill they approved last week outlawing ghost guns.

"These should be banned," Dart said. "There's no need for them. You can buy it appropriately and legally. There's no reason for them."

Dart began pushing for the legislation last year as authorities were finding an increasing number of these weapons on the streets.

"Untraceable ghost guns pose a significant threat to our efforts to combat violence," Dart said.

Chicago police said they are seeing a huge increase in ghost guns, recovering 139 in 2020 and 458 last year. Advocates said it will make a big difference in fighting violent crime.

"When you get them at home, you can assemble them in 15 minutes," said Kathleen Sances, of Gun Violence Prevention. "They're untraceable, untrackable, a criminal's first choice."

Chicago police said Alfonso Joyner fired more than 20 rounds from a ghost gun at 71-year-old Woom Sing Tse in Chinatown last December.

"These guns are easy to obtain, hard to trace and we've got to figure out a way that this doesn't become a pandemic," 36th Ward Aldermen Gilbert Villegas said.

Gun rights activists, however, argue these laws will make little difference fighting crime. They are considering filing suit claiming the laws are unconstitutional.

"This is a violation of the Second Amendment and infringes on the right to have firearms at home," said Aiden Johnston, with Gun Owners of America.

The U.S. rule is likely to take effect this summer, even as new legislation to ban ghost guns in Illinois is headed to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk. It is set to be the first state prohibition in the Midwest.

According to the new law, a ghost gun would be illegal, but you could make it legal by simply bringing it to a gun shop and having them put a serial number on it.
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