Nobody wants to aid and abet violent street gangs. Except the people who want to aid and abet street gangs. These are the people who are, at least in theory, in the cross-hairs of Illinois bill HB6123. The legislation would make it a Class 1 felony (five years minimum jail term, fifteen years maximum) to “knowingly sell or give a firearm to a person who is a street gang member.” Like many (any?) attempts to restrict gun sales, the proposed law has attracted the ire of pragmatic gun rights’ campaigners. The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), for example, believes that HB6123 would discourage law-abiding African-American citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights by “scaring off” gun dealers and private sellers. Central to the argument: what exactly is a street gang member? The bill uses the definition in Section 10 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. Here’s that text:
“Streetgang member” or “gang member” means any person who actually and in fact belongs to a gang, and any person who knowingly acts in the capacity of an agent for or accessory to, or is legally accountable for, or voluntarily associates himself with a course or pattern of gang‑related criminal activity, whether in a preparatory, executory, or cover‑up phase of any activity, or who knowingly performs, aids, or abets any such activity.”
So now you know. Or do you? The problem: the bill requires anyone who sells a firearm to know whether or not the buyer is a gang-member. As ISRA points out, gun sellers/dealers will likely err on the side of caution, refusing to sell to minorities who LOOK like they belong to a gang.
There are other issues here. The bill would also require a 24-hour waiting period for the sale of any firearm, which includes private and gun show sales. And here’s the kicker: the bill also makes it a Class 1 felony for anyone who “sells or gives any firearm to any narcotic addict.”
O.K. esse. Now you gotta pee in this cup and wait a day before I can sell you the Glock. By the way, can I see your Facebook page?
The U.S. Supreme Court looks set to strike down Chicago’s 28-year-old handgun ban this summer. This Illinois bill is an obvious attempt by gun control advocates to preempt the Supreme’s preemption with new legislative strictures.
While no one wants gangs members to get a hold of firearms, any bill that puts the onus on gun sellers to do the police’s work for them, and punishes them with jail if they don’t, is a very bad bit of business.
As far a former staff liaison to the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County States’ Attorney’s Office for 48th ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith, bill sponsor Rep. Harry Osterman should know better. Or care more.