COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart commended the federal government for working to tighten restrictions on untraceable ‘ghost guns’ that evade background checks and are increasingly showing up on the streets of Chicago.
The federal move comes after state lawmakers approved legislation Saturday pushed by Sheriff Dart and sponsored by state Sen. Jacqueline Collins and state Rep. Kam Buckner to ban the sale and possession of ghost guns in Illinois.
“Ghost guns are a serious threat to our ability to solve violent crimes. They are being made and carried by those who want to evade background checks and justice,” Sheriff Dart said. “Gun violence is destroying communities across Illinois and the country. There is no good use for deadly weapons that help violent criminals elude police.”
“Gun violence is plaguing communities in Illinois and across the country, which is why I sponsored legislation that recently passed in Illinois to ban ghost guns,” Sen. Collins said. “I’m pleased to see the federal government following in the footsteps of Illinois to address gun violence in our communities and hope that federal restrictions on firearms that contribute to violence on our streets continue to be strengthened so that our communities can find healing.”
“These homemade firearms are flooding our streets and taking too many innocent lives,” state Rep. Kam Buckner said. “To be blunt, these weapons are used with the targeted intention that no one gets caught. I am supportive of today’s federal action and remain proud of the life-saving legislation that we passed to stop ghost guns from harming more of our family, friends, and neighbors.”
The federal rule, announced by President Joe Biden today, will require serial numbers on gun kits that are used to build ghost guns. Purchasers of such kits must undergo background checks, and commercial sellers must be federally licensed firearm dealers.
Previously, these gun kits were not considered firearms under federal law, so they did not require serial numbers and did not require background checks for purchase. The kits, however, can be built into useable firearms at home with commonly available tools.
Because law enforcement cannot trace the weapon to the original owner – a key investigative step – ghost guns have become a growing weapon of choice for violent offenders.
Sheriff Dart began pushing for laws to address the problem last year as Sheriff’s Police and other law enforcement agencies were finding an increasing number of the weapons.
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 the year’s first four months.
On Saturday the Illinois General Assembly approved ghost gun legislation supported by Sheriff Dart and sponsored by Sen. Collins and state Rep. Kam Buckner.
Once signed into law, HB4383 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.
The bill also creates new offenses for possession of a ghost gun or unserialized parts and for selling ghost guns and/or unserialized parts.
- The first offense for possession 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.
- The first offense for selling 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.