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Gun safety law signed

Published: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 3:01 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 3:53 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a new gun safety law requiring background checks for all gun purchases statewide, as well as the reporting of all lost and stolen guns.

Quinn signed the new law on Sunday, saying House Bill 1189 closes the background check loophole for the sale or transfer of a firearm from a private party. Prior to this new legislation, private sellers were not required to check whether or not the purchaser had a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card.

Quinn said the new law also requires all eligible firearm owners whose firearms are lost, misplaced or stolen to report the loss or theft to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours after obtaining knowledge of the loss or theft.

“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn said. “As I said in my State of the State Address earlier this year, making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe. This common-sense law will help our law enforcement crack down on crime and make our streets safe.”

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said this new law appears to be a good law, assuming the information is able to be channeled into the correct access points. He hopes the background information, including mental health information, is available to those involved in private gun sales.

As far as the new required reporting of lost or stolen guns, Thompson said people should be doing this already, but sometimes people may figure it’s just an inconvenience to file a police report. Or, they may not have the needed documented information, such as the gun’s model and serial number.

Gun-owners should make sure they keep written information on every gun they own, including any specific characteristics of that gun, which is what he has done for every gun he owns.

Concerning gun safety issues, the problem is not with the law-abiding people and their guns, Thompson said. The problem is with the people who steal guns, and then those guns end up on the streets and in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, the sheriff said.

On Monday, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said it’s a good idea to have background checks on all gun transfers, which is something people may have thought was already required. The new law should work just fine for law-abiding citizens, he said.

Though the new law closes one loop hole, requiring background checks on all gun sales or transfers, it doesn’t remedy the problem of illegal firearms and sales, Herrmann said.

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