A Smarter Way to Attack Chicago’s Illegal Gun Problem: Enforce Existing Laws

Gun Dealer Licensing Bill SB-337

courtesy chicagotribune.com

The following is a response to a recent letter from the Deputy Director of the Illinois Justice Project in support of gun dealer licensing that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. So far, the Sun-Times has declined to print this. 

By Dan P. Eldridge and Todd Vandermyde

Sharone Mitchell’s letter to the Sun-Times in support of gun dealer licensing (SB337) betrays a complete ignorance of current law. Straw purchases and sales (using a “straw” qualified buyer to procure a firearm for a legally disqualified purchaser) are Illegal under Illinois and federal law. SB-337 does nothing to address this issue. Nor does it address the underlying problem of limp prosecutions by the Cook County State’s Attorney. Or their refusal to refer cases to federal prosecutors.

Buying a gun for someone who is not legally allowed to possess one is already illegal.

This is due to the fact that straw purchases are currently illegal under federal law, and have been since 1968. Straw purchases are punishable by up to ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. It was firearms industry participants who helped to craft Illinois’ straw purchase law (720 ILCS 5/24-3.5).

Penalties under current state law start with five years imprisonment, and ramp up to 40 years for serial gun traffickers. Therefore the existing law provides for prosecution at the state and federal level with stiff penalties for straw buyers and straw sellers alike. No new law is needed. The only “new” thing needed is the will and fortitude by Cook County’s State’s Attorney to use the existing laws on the books. And to stop the catch and release program for those violating Illinois and federal  firearms law.

Firearms trafficking is also already illegal.

Even without the current law on straw purchasing, Illinois also has laws on gun running (three or more illegal transfers), waiting periods, and FOID card requirements to own or possess firearms or ammunition. All of this appears to be ignored by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Yet the supporters of gun control want to overlook this inconvenient fact and continue to push the false narrative that gun shops are somehow responsible for crime in Chicago.

Not a single firearm leaves an Illinois gun shop without someone first being approved by state and federal background checks, or possessing a federal license. Federally licensed firearms stores in Illinois may be the only retail business where in order for their customers to even handle, much less purchase, their products, they must have already passed a background check by the State Police and FBI.

Customers are required to have a special state issued ID (FOID Card) to possess the product when they leave the store, and must wait 72 hours and face another background check before taking their purchase home with them.

Useless and redundant regulation is not what is needed.

The current law allows for state and local law enforcement to attempt straw purchases at dealers in “sting” operations. This is an effective and established method to prove compliance or non-compliance with the existing law. A vast, burdensome, and expensive regulatory scheme as envisioned by SB337 does nothing to prevent crime. It is useless and redundant regulation at the expense of small businesses.

Mr. Mitchell concludes:

Deterring straw purchases in Illinois won’t end the violence in our neighborhoods, but it is one necessary step to reducing the bloodshed.

We couldn’t agree more. And what better way to deter crime than to prosecute criminals under the existing law?

 

Dan P. Eldridge owns Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in Des Plaines and is President of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois

Todd Vandermyde owns The Firearms Technical Group and is Executive Director of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois

comments

  1. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Meh.

    Another example of logic being used to oppose feelz. Never works.

  2. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah whatever…I live in Cook county. It’s getting worse. Kim Foxx will NEVER enforce the law. Former denizen of Cabrini Green. When the Tiny Dancer© is replaced it’ll be even worse…

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    If Chicago actually enforced existing laws, most of the politicians and cops would be in prison alongside the gang members. And wouldn’t that be fun!

    There are few cities outside the Third World that are more corrupt that the City of Broad Shoulders and Small Brains, Hog Butcher for the World.

    Except maybe Providence.

  4. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Using already existing laws is way to difficult for the dimwits running Chicago to understand. Let alone way too easy to prosecute common criminals.
    They have to come up with a much harder way to use already existing laws to justify having their jobs.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Never attribute to stupidity that which can be accurately described as diabolical.

      Solving problems in government is a ticket to either dismissal, or an office in a broom closet. In the mid-’80s, “Time” magazine reported on an Air Force project officer who was assigned to that broom closet after he, as a project manager, managed to cut the cost of 30mm ammunition for the A-10 from $1500 per round to under $100. The purpose of the “reward” was to force a retirement of a renegade who believed in doing the best job possible.

      On another occasion, an Air Force officer was “re-calibrated” for eliminating over $1 million for a redundant computer system that, rather than ensure accuracy of the prime system merely reported on the fact that the data provided by the prime system was provided by the prime system (accuracy of the data, or output was not designed into the system).

      In both instances above, the issue was revulsion of decreased budgets; the key to success (and promotion) was/is to increase budgets. The same is true of any government agency; expanding the personnel and budget footprints. Thus, “fixing” crime in Chicago is the fast track to career destruction. But wait, there’s more….

      Failed policies and programs may seem to be something to avoid. The opposite is true. A failed policy means more policy must be funded, more people hired. In the current case, the failure to “fix” crime in Chicago just may be even more dangerous than it appears. Since there are laws on the books already that address the gun purchase transactions, another law covering the same thing is not stupid, it is brilliant. Failure of law/policy means more and new obstacles to success must be implemented. If the crime problem is reduced, it is more difficult to argue that the same amount of resources must be funded to ensure the low rate stays that way. The taxpayer doesn’t like continuing to pay for solving a problem that has already been “solved”. It’s not just the Chicago Way, it is the American Way.

      1. avatar PATRON49IFT says:

        What you said makes perfect sense when viewed as a ‘government employee’. The bigger the budget, the bigger the responsibility and staff, and, and, and……… We must bear in mind that many in government really want to do the right thing and watch spending as if the money was their own. Unfortunately, I think those folks are far outnumbered by many more who just want to ride the gravy train. They can’t be fired, even if they are demoted for non performance they maintain their salary and other perks. Their retirement benefits are off the charts compared to most in private industry. It’s a win for them all around.

        Most in government I’m convinced, are still the same ones we knew in Jr. High and High School who went around organizing this and that, running for student government and generally trying to ‘Manage’ everyone and direct the activities of the rest of us. Difference is now in many cases they have the power of the police behind them to enforce their kooky ideas. I give you examples of Barry and Michelle as well as Bill and Hillary. None of them ever worked in the private sector for very long; just long enough to get some connections with some fellow travelers.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “They can’t be fired, even if they are demoted for non performance they maintain their salary and other perks. ”

          As a veteran of the “dot bomb” era, had four jobs where employment was at risk daily. So it was always a puzzle how fellow federal employees (not the senior leadership) feared being fired for making a decision that was not guaranteed a 100% success. In one hilarious episode, a fellow renegade and I proposed a federal contract type that had never been tried anywhere. The benefits were more control over outcomes, less cost, faster completion. We searched the applicable regs and discovered there was no prohibition. Even the premier government contracting regulation encouraged innovative thinking and contracting (in black and white, plain English stating that if a contract type was not already prohibited by law/regulation, it was permissible).

          The next level supervisor (thirty years experience in gov’t contracting) refused to allow us to proceed because it had never been done before, and was thus illegal. When we produced the acquisition reg allowing the new methodology, the supervisor declared, “That is not what the words mean, it would violate a hundred years of contracting history”. After more discussion, the supervisor admitted he feared being marked down on his efficiency report for not “staying in the lane”. Even knowing that a “mark down” could not be used to interrupt his career.

  5. avatar Texican says:

    There is only one actual (fire)arms law. Every other law regarding arms is in contravention to it. Life would be simpler and safer if we’d enforce it. 2A forever!

  6. avatar Binder says:

    If you think that anyone can rely on the ATF to prevent gun gunning, well…
    You have to look for the reports, but the AFT admitted at one time that a good percentage (around 20%), of guns obtained by felons came directly from FFLs. Not straw purchases. I suspect this is the reason for making it harder to be a tabletop FFLs over the years. The 48 hour reporting requirement for guns stolen from FFLs was another attempt at slowing the direct dealer sales. ATF will not talk about FFL gun runners too much anymore as all it would do is let people know how hard of a crime it is to prosecute.

    As for complaining about how SB337 is vast, burdensome, and expensive regulatory scheme why don’t you actually list it’s requirements; 2 hours training on how to identify a straw purchase, video surveillance and electronic inventory control (only for brick and mortar).

    As for you FOID cards, the gangs use them to pre-screen their members who are straw purchasing.

    Look, I’m not for this bill at all, but Dan and Tod (and I am a huge fan of Tod) are not exactly being honest claiming that Sharone has “complete ignorance of current law” I am very familiar with both the existing a proposed laws, and this little tirade is ignoring the fact that the point of the bill is to prevent the straw purchases in the fist place (something that AFT is not preventing anyway) and to make it easier to prosecute.

    Because let’s be 100% honest, the existing federal laws require self incrimination for conviction. As long are you are not stupid and talk, it is almost impossible to prosecute under federal law. To quote everyone here, “boating accident.”

    And who knows, bill may slow down the straw purchases for a short period of time. But the gangs are not stupid and once they are comfortable having a camera in their faces, it will be business as usual.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Decrease in kitchen table FFLs was due to the efforts of the Clinton Admin to eliminate as many sellers of firearms as possible, by increasing annual fees, inspections, audits etc in order to eliminate it as a hobby, while burdening brick and mortar stores as well. It was a gun control move, IOW.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        estimate there were as many as 240;000 of us…clintons got us down to about 40,000…we weren’t hurting anyone…they just wanted us gone…and through various means, they succeeded…

    2. avatar John Boch says:

      “If you think that anyone can rely on the ATF to prevent gun gunning, well…
      You have to look for the reports, but the ATF admitted at one time that a good percentage (around 20%), of guns obtained by felons came directly from FFLs. Not straw purchases.”

      I am just going to call bullshit on that. Please cite the reports.

      “As for complaining about how SB337 is vast, burdensome, and expensive regulatory scheme why don’t you actually list it’s requirements; 2 hours training on how to identify a straw purchase, video surveillance and electronic inventory control (only for brick and mortar).”

      I’ll touch upon a few:

      1. Ration non-FFLs to 9 firearm transfers per year. Transfers, not purchases.

      2. No more private gun sales.

      3. Open-ended regulatory burdens.

      4. Big $ licensing fees.

      How’s that for just a start?

    3. avatar bitter_clinger says:

      “As for complaining about how SB337 is vast, burdensome, and expensive regulatory scheme why don’t you actually list it’s requirements; 2 hours training on how to identify a straw purchase, video surveillance and electronic inventory control (only for brick and mortar).”

      If only that were the case – but it’s not. There are burdensome retention of video requirements (90 days!?!?), non-defined standards for security plans, high fees ($1500 per FFL, and many shops have more than one FFL), and the threat of revocation and loss of your business for innocent paperwork errors. errors do happen.

      But even more offensive than the details are two aspects of the intent of this act: 1: to drive some shops out of business (the senate sponsor has stated this to be his intent), and to blame lawful gun shops for the criminal mayhem of Chicago gang bangers, all while Kim Fox is unwilling to prosecute those committing crimes under the existing laws.

      If you’re ok with “otherizing” gun dealers as all being potential criminals deserving of regulatory harassment and scrutiny by anti-gun-rights activists (Rep willis has stated that this will be modified to be complaint-based), well, then you have a different appreciation for what lawful gun dealers and their law abiding customers do.

  7. avatar Salty Bear says:

    No. Existing laws also suck.

    There should be no one roaming free in society for whom I cannot buy a gun.

    Buying and selling (“trafficking”) firearms is an innocuous business and should not be subject to restrictions.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Agree completely. How the hell am I supposed to know this is even a law? Why should I care? A friend asks me to pick him up a gun on my way home (it has happened before, in both directions), why shouldn’t I? My second handgun was a Python, I read the ad but had no way to get to the store (In college with no car), asked a friend to pick it up for me since he lived in that city. Why not? That was about 1969. Did I research every law ever passed to discover if someone had prohibited “straw purchases”? Not only no, but shit, no, I did not even know WTF a “straw purchase” WAS for 20 years after. A REALLY stupid law. Why not make it illegal for the felon to possess a firearm, and prosecute HIM!??

    2. avatar Binder says:

      WTF, so no parole?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        There already is no parole in the Federal system. Reduction of incarceration is based exclusively on “good time.” The max amount of reduction is 54 days for every year of good time.

        Parole is a bad joke perpetrated on society.

  8. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    They don’t want to enforce the law. They like chaos, and KAOS agents.

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

      Close, but no cigar.

      They *cannot* enforce the law, because that will place *massive* numbers of Blacks in prison.

      And *that* will be determined to be racist…

      1. avatar Harry Balzak says:

        Aaaand….we have a winner. This is the sad truth. All the rest is just a smoke scree.

      2. avatar Harry Balzak says:

        Aaaand….we have a winner. This is the sad truth. All the rest is just a smoke screen.

      3. avatar Southern Cross says:

        And add the fact that Illinois simply doesn’t have the space to incarcerate the prisoners.

        Unless they start fencing off open fields with tents as living space. After a winter or two most felons would not want to return.

      4. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

        nail on the head…

      5. avatar Ams says:

        … and that would cost constituents and re-elections.

        Racism is only they drum they beat to make sure they get re-elected

  9. avatar Icabod says:

    What never seems to come out is how many “straw purchase” people are arrested, prosecuted and jailed.

    Then there is Chicago’s enforcement of its own gun laws.
    “Chicago seems to have a lack of willingness to prosecution crime. In 2012, Former NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told CBS News, “In Chicago, you’ve got a 50-50 chance that you’re not going to do any jail time…(and)…33 percent of those cases are dismissed outright” (Reynolds, 2013). Miller’s statements may not be too far off from reality.“
    “When it comes to prosecuting crimes committed with firearms, Chicago ranked eighty out of eighty-seven regions in 2011. Los Angeles ranked eighty-third, and San Francisco ranked dead last at eighty-seven – the lowest prosecution rate for gun-related crimes (Syracuse University, 2011). As of June 2015, Syracuse University noted there were only forty-eight weapons convictions in the Northern District of Illinois which includes both Chicago and Rockford, Illinois (Ballotpedia, 2014). Gun control seems to be Chicago’s focus.”

    The reality is that there are not enough courts to prosecute those charged with gun crimes. There are not enough room in prisons to hold those convicted. Finally the objection “too many minorities in jail” is a hangup.

    http://www.netadvisor.org/2015/08/11/murder-in-chicago-politicians-tough-on-guns-weak-on-criminal-prosecution/#.W5LBo99lCf1

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Weapons restriction violations? HAH!! I read that only 12% of homicides in Chicago were ever prosecuted. Why would anybody expect a single prosecution of drug possession, gun possession, jaywalking, shoplifting, or much of anything else?

      1. avatar Binder says:

        Has a lot to due with the fact that the people living in these neighborhoods may be harden organized criminals, but they are not stupid. It is not that hard to shoot someone and get away with it. Not if you know how to shut up and no one will be a witness as there are another 20 bangers that the witness needs to deal with.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          The British SAS claim, “There is no problem that cannot be solved with a sufficient amount of properly placed explosives.”

          Thinking a flamethrowing tank/MRAP could be quite effective against persistent virus.

  10. avatar m. says:

    truth hurts too much?

  11. avatar Jbw says:

    There was a gun case a few years ago in Chicago where a felon was arrested three times with a gun and each time released pending trial. While out the third time he was arrested for murder with a gun, this time kept in jail.
    Kim fox will not charge armed car jackers if you get your car back, and other gun and violence crimes against blacks

  12. avatar m. says:

    regulations = the means by which goobermint stays on the taxpayer tit. both the regulations & goobermint generally worthless.

  13. avatar m. says:

    TTAG deleted my accurate comment, did the truth hurt too much?

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Which accurate comment would that be. I see three comments ascribed to “m.”

  14. avatar el Possum Guapo Herr Standartenfuher",they think we're making pizza'," Oberst von Burn says:

    Well Chicago always was a “gang” town. As far as straw purchases, there should be no such thing, it’s an infringement on shall not be infringed. Hmm some laws are enforced and some laws aren’t, seems the laws not enforced are the ones that would restrict government restrictions?

  15. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    would impact too many young black men…destroy their lives…can’t have that…not PC
    better to let them off easy,…until they actually kill someone…
    SARCASM

  16. avatar skiff says:

    That’s a Colt Detective Special in the far left corner that appears to be very good condition.

  17. avatar Craig in IA says:

    The primary problem with enforcing existing law, whether it be concerning firearms, illegal “immigration” (actually an invasion), voter fraud or suppression or anything that can be construed as a problem by a fairly large segment of society is that it is not some huge, “glitzy” project.

    Politician exist to write and pass more and more legislation, regulation and red tape to keep we, the unwashed, in line with their view of what America should be. If proving that only enforcing existing law that was passed decades ago would solve the problems, and it would, the general public might again become aware that elected officials and their appointed regulators would really be needed only on a very part-time basis. Can’t have that! Few parties and opportunities to have a Spartacus Moment????

    Like him or not, President Trump is showing that ending whim-passed regulation and restrictions on the American people is having a positive affect on both our nation’s standing and our individual prosperity.

    Show the need for a new law, not that crooks are trying to thwart existing regs. Isn’t that why they’re criminals in the first place? DUH

  18. avatar BRUCE CLARK says:

    Enforce the existing laws, what a novel idea? That’s something that has never occured to those blind liberal/ commie gun grabbers in that POS city. Afterall if all the laws on the books were actually enforced why would anyone need them to write new ones? Maybe half of them and their staffs could be laid off.

  19. avatar joefoam says:

    But if you don’t come up with a new law how can you expect to get some votes because you ‘did something’? We all know it’s about getting elected or reelected. It has nothing to do with public safety.

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