COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart applauded the Illinois General Assembly today for passing legislation to combat the proliferation of unserialized “ghost guns” that make it impossible to trace weapons and harder to solve violent crimes.
“Untraceable ghost guns pose a significant threat to our efforts to combat violence. It was imperative to close this legal loophole that allowed people to build untraceable guns while evading background checks,” Sheriff Dart said. “We are seeing more and more of these deadly weapons every year, and they are intentionally being sought out by criminals.”
The bill, which was passed by both the Senate and the House today, will now be sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“Gun violence is destroying communities across Illinois,” Sheriff Dart said. “There is no good use for deadly weapons specifically designed to help violent criminals evade justice.”
Sheriff Dart began pushing for this legislation last year as Sheriff’s Police and other local law enforcement agencies were finding an increasing number of the weapons on the streets.
Dubbed “ghost guns,” these weapons can be easily assembled at home with basic tools using parts that can be purchased separately in stores or online. Because the individual parts are not an actual firearm, they are not required to have a serial number, unlike typical firearms. As a result, when a ghost gun is used in a crime, law enforcement agencies are unable to trace the weapon to the original purchaser, a key investigative step.
Once signed into law, the measure will:
- Immediately ban the sale of unserialized gun parts or kits in Illinois.
- Ban privately made firearms, including 3D printed guns, unless they are affixed with a serial number through a federally licensed firearms dealer.
- Require current owners of ghost guns or unserialized parts to have the weapons or parts serialized within six months of the effective date of the law.
- Make possession of unserialized guns or gun parts illegal six months after the effective date of the measure.
A first offense for possession of a ghost gun or unserialized parts would be a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 364 days in jail. Subsequent offenses would be a Class 3 felony, which carries a possible sentence of two to five years imprisonment.
A first offense for an individual selling a ghost gun and/or parts would be a Class 4 felony, which carries a penalty of one to three years imprisonment, and subsequent offenses would be a Class 2 felony, which carries sentence of three to seven years imprisonment.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports that more than 23,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes nationwide between 2016 and 2020. Cook County Sheriff’s Office recoveries of such weapons jumped from 4 in 2020 to 21 in 2021. The Office is on pace to more than double the number of recoveries this year, with 10 found in just the year’s first four months.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Jacqueline Collins and state Rep. Kam Buckner.
“I am proud to sponsor this legislation because unserialized firearms are able to circumvent state and federal gun laws, making them harder to track and regulate, which makes them all the more dangerous for our communities. We cannot allow such undetectable and deadly weapons to continue to harm Illinois families,” said Sen. Collins. “Every fatal gun incident leaves another family devastated beyond repair, and if we are to ensure the safety of our residents and communities, we have to confront these issues before they prematurely take the lives of our loved ones.”