Cupich, Loyola Medicine call on Ill. lawmakers to pass gun dealer licensing bill

MAYWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- A prominent Chicago-area hospital and the Archbishop of Chicago called on Illinois lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws in the state.

Loyola Medicine officials said they're treating hundreds of gunshot wounds every year, and that needs to change. They called gun violence a "public health issue."

Dr. Mark Cichon of Loyola Medicine's Emergency Department is one of the few Chicagoans who is not looking forward to a spring warm up.

"When the weather warms, the number of gun violence victims soars," Cichon said.

Loyola saw 283 gunshot victims in fiscal year 2017 - a number that doubled from two years before. Cichon said that's why he and dozens of medical staff members joined Cardinal Blase Cupich Tuesday morning to try to do something about it.

"It is irresponsible to just shrug our shoulders and declare the problem to be unsolvable," Cupich said.

Cupich said the answer is Senate Bill 1657, which would require criminal background checks for all gun shop employees. The bill would also require training to help gun shop employees identify a buyer purchasing a gun for someone else.

The bill passed, but Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed it last month. Now a legislative veto override is required for the bill to become law.

"The vote is very close, is my understanding, and it's going to take bipartisan support," Cupich said.

Rauner said the bill was onerous, unnecessary and did "little to improve public safety." He also said it would be costly to business.

Cupich fired back on Tuesday.

"I can't hear the argument about cost. For me, it is an argument that falls on my deaf ears, especially when I compare the cost of not doing anything," Cupich said.

State Senator Don Harmon of Oak Park sponsored the original bill and is pursing the veto override.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.