AUBURN GRESHAM — A new state law bans a type of untraceable gun as local leaders face increasing pressure to drive down violent crime.
Governor JB Pritzker signed a law Wednesday to block the sale, possession, transfer, and manufacture of ghost guns, which are untraceable and unregistered, have no serial numbers and require no background checks to buy. Ghost guns can be assembled through kits, or created through 3D printers.
lllinois is the first state in the Midwest to enact the law.
The legislation was spearheaded by State Sen. Jacqueline Collins and State Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner, who is challenging Mayor Lori Lightfoot for mayor in 2023. Lightfoot made an unscheduled appearance at Pritzker’s presser to praise the legislation.
More than 20,000 ghost guns were used in criminal investigations across the country in 2021, 10 times the number in 2016, Pritzker said. Chicago police confiscated nearly 500 ghost guns in 2021, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said.
“In short, in an America where gun violence has become a scourge on so many neighborhoods, Illinois is taking a common sense approach to advancing public safety and justice from all directions,” Pritzker said at a press conference at the Ark of St. Sabina, 7800 S. Racine Ave.
Buckner said cracking down on gun violence is especially critical to keeping young people safe, noting 16-year-old Seandell Holliday, who was shot and killed Downtown Saturday. Police said another teenager arrested at the scene but not connected to Holliday’s killing had a ghost gun.
“These dangerous weapons are not entering into our communities, they have entered, and they are affecting children at a young age and making all of us much less safe,” Buckner said. “This law will help prevent those guns from getting into the hands of the wrong people — whether they be kids, whether they be criminals who shoot up our streets and recruit our children into violent activities.”
Lightfoot said “mayors all over the country are grappling” with ghost guns and national legislation is needed to to prevent nearby states from funneling illegal guns into the state and “endangering lives here in the city.”
“We must take this moment and appreciate the work that has been done, but the work is not over,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to continue, and we cannot rest until we see every state step up, and particularly every state in the Midwest, so that Chicagoans can sleep a little bit easier knowing that these dangerous weapons of mass destruction … are off our streets and out of the hands of children once and forever.”
Collins said the law will “drive healing” in Black and Brown communities that have “experienced fatal gun violence far more than their white counterparts.”
“The attack on people of color occurring nationwide is fatiguing, disgusting and unfounded,” Collins said. “Our country must begin to prioritize the safety and well being of these targeted individuals, and I am proud to lead that charge in Illinois.”
Community leaders, violence prevention organizers and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office also praised the legislation.
Delphine Cherry, founder of the Tender Youth Foundation and a survivor of gun violence, lost two children to gun violence 20 years apart. She said the ghost gun law is a step toward ending “senseless and preventable gun violence that destroys too many families and communities.”
“While no law will stop gun violence, stopping the sale of deadly, untraceable guns will save many lives and stop many others from experiencing the pain I have to live through every day,” Cherry said.
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