Today Chicago Police Superintendent Jody P. Weis testified at the Forum on Closing the Gun Show Loophole, hosted by US Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL), to express the City of Chicago’s strong support closing the gun show loophole on a national level.
“It is imperative that we close the gun show loophole by enacting a federal ban on the ability of criminals to purchase guns at gun shows,” said Superintendent Weis in testimony delivered at the Dirksen Federal Building. “As a nation, we already require criminal background checks for people who purchase firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer. Simply stated, there is no good reason that someone who wants to purchase firearms at a gun show should not undergo the same important criminal background check as someone who makes the same purchase from a dealer.” This loophole currently allows unlicensed individuals to sell firearms at gun shows without conducting criminal background checks on buyers or without any record-keeping.
In Illinois, under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s leadership, the General Assembly has already passed legislation to close the state gun show loophole. However, because the vast majority of other states have not closed their loopholes, criminals can simply go outside of Illinois and buy guns at gun shows in neighboring states without a background check, and then bring them into Illinois.
“If we are serious about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we must work together to close this loophole,” said Weis.
To illustrate the importance of toughening the laws that govern access to firearms, Superintendent Weis cited several examples of weapons seized by Chicago Police that were traced back to gun shows, including:
- One of the guns used in the June 2010 shooting death of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham was traced back to a gun trafficker in Englewood. The guns he trafficked were obtained from straw purchases and gun show purchases in Mississippi.
- In May 2010 Chicago Police apprehended another individual on Chicago Park District property,
who was in possession of a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. That weapon was traced back to a gun show in Crown Point, Indiana.
- An individual who served twenty-six years in prison for first degree murder was found in possession of seven firearms, purchased from gun shows. At the time of his arrest, he had both receipts and advertising from various gun shows in Indiana.
- In March 2010, John Bedell, who was prohibited by law from possessing guns, shot two Pentagon police officers with a gun purchased from a private seller at a Las Vegas gun show.
In Chicago, most violent crime involves firearms and the firearm of choice among criminals is a handgun. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, these crimes are committed by people who obtained these firearms illegally, and due to their criminal backgrounds, they shouldn’t have been able to have a gun in the first place. Therefore, the Superintendent pledged that the City of Chicago would continue to do everything possible to keep our streets safe for our residents, for our visitors, and for our Police Officers. Those
- Seizing thousands of illegal weapons each year
- Collecting almost 23,000 illegal weapons due to the City’s gun turn-in program
- Advocating for common sense gun laws in Springfield and in Washington D.C. to make
Chicago neighborhoods safer
- Working with the Illinois General Assembly to adopt House Joint Resolution 51 which created
the Interstate Gun Trafficking Task Force within the Illinois State Police in October 2009.
- Working with the Congress to enact reasonable federal gun laws such as HB 2324 “We need laws that protect the rights of law abiding residents to purchase guns but also make it more difficult for criminals to obtain guns,” commented Weis.