Gun Violence Report Recommends Stricter Laws
Updated: Wednesday, February 25 2015, 11:00 PM CST
ILLINOIS -- In the past year, 109 firearms have been reported stolen in Springfield and Springfield police have recovered fewer than one-fourth of those. The stolen pistols are presumably in the hands of criminals.
Now, an Illinois congresswoman is releasing her ideas for stricter federal laws on gun control. The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, by U.S. Representative Robin Kelly from Chicago, says having a firearm in reach greatly increases the chance someone will die in a situation in which it otherwise may have been unlikely.
Vickie Smith, executive director of Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says that's especially true in domestic violence cases.
"When they get access to guns, the potential for lethality increases dramatically," Smith said.
There are loopholes in the law that allow guns to exchange hands without a background check; like at gun shows, private sales, and online. Under current federal law, background checks are only required when someone buys a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Although people convicted of domestic violence, or who have a restraining order can't buy guns, there's no ban on gun ownership for stalkers who've been convicted or those subject to an emergency restraining order.
"Those people are going to slip through the cracks," Smith said.
The report recommends changing the law to require universal background checks on all gun sales, require websites to meet the same standards as brick-and-mortar gun shops, ban assault weapons, allow victims of gun violence to sue gun manufacturers the way consumers can sue makers of other products, among other proposals.
Representative Kelly also wants to expand law enforcement's ability to crack down on gun trafficking.
"I would say 99% of the people that use a weapon in the commission of a crime have illegally obtained it and have no right to have it," said Springfield deputy police chief Dennis Arnold. He adds it's hard to say if any one specific law would make that big of a difference, because criminals are always going to try to find a way around it.
"The majority of laws we have are good. But let's face it, we can make a law for anything but it's up to individuals not to commit the crimes," Arnold said.
There are several pending bills in congress regarding stricter gun laws, that Representative Kelly recommends passing, but those plans have failed to garner enough support in the U.S. House, controlled by Republicans who traditionally oppose gun control.