Illegal gun trading is not a right

Legislation that was due to be introduced in the Illinois House the week of May 2 could significantly decrease illegal gun sales and trade in Illinois, according to an April 28 Chicago Tribune article.

The legislation is backed by Democrats in the Illinois House and Gabby Giffords, a former Arizona Congresswoman who survived a 2011 assassination attempt and is now a major advocate for restrictions on gun trade and sales. It is not intended to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, State Sen. Don Harmon of the 39th District said in the Tribune article.

The proposed regulations call for criminal background checks on employees of gun dealers, training and education for employees on how to conduct background checks, and for law enforcement and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to have greater access to gun vendors’ inventories, according to an April 28 Chicago Sun-Times article. All of these proposed measures seem so rational that it is difficult to comprehend why they are not already in place in Illinois. However, the proposed regulations are already facing criticism from gun lobbyist groups, such as shooting sports news site AmmoLand.com, which called Illinois’ proposed regulations “an assault on our gun rights.”

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said in a May 2 article on Guns.com, a website that publishes articles on gun-related news, that Illinois gun dealers already have to go through extensive federal licensing requirements and the requirements proposed in this legislation could be considered “harassment.”

Ensuring that people who work with gun dealers do not have criminal backgrounds and increasing accountability for gun inventories and sales should not affect anyone legally purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. The law does not restrict Second Amendment rights.

The legislation seems conservative enough to gain bipartisan support. It focuses on illegal gun trade instead of restricting legal gun ownership—the right battle to choose considering the state of gun laws right now, Harmon said in the Tribune article. 

While these regulations provide solutions to important issues regarding guns obtained illegally, they do not fully address why legally purchased guns end up in the hands of people who should not have them.

A study published April 30, 2015, from the University of Chicago and Duke University found that the majority of adult criminals in the Chicago area obtain guns through their “social network” of family and friends.

The study suggests that while the legislation is important to pass and will deter illegal gun trade, criminals will still be able to obtain guns.

Another issue that is not addressed directly or sufficiently by stopping illegal gun trade is accidental shootings, which have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. So far in 2016, there have been 23 shootings nationwide involving a toddler finding a gun and accidentally shooting someone. Additionally, there have been at least 77 accidental shootings involving a shooter under the age of 18, according to a May 1 article from The Washington Post.

It will likely never be possible to stop accidental shootings in the United States as long as people are able to own guns. However, accidental shootings and people obtaining guns from friends or family is an issue that must be addressed. 

Illinois’ legislation may be a step toward limiting gun control problems, but there is a slim chance this legislation or future legislation will pass if gun lobbyists are not willing to accept it. Regardless of someone’s stance on Second Amendment rights, public safety should be a priority.

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