CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation to dramatically increase the penalties for those caught illegally transporting guns into Illinois.
First-time offenders could face up to 20 years in prison, and repeat offenders could face up to 30 years under the new gun trafficking law, which takes effect immediately.
The governor was joined by top Republican lawmakers as he signed the measure at the Illinois State Police crime lab on the Near West Side. He said the goal is to reduce the growing epidemic of gun violence in Chicago. There already have been at least 460 homicides and more than 2,700 shootings in 2016; during all of last year, there were approximately 490 homicides, and just shy of 3,000 shootings in Chicago.
"Bullets flying through these neighborhoods breaks my heart. We've got to deal with this," Rauner said.
With research showing 60 percent of guns used in Chicago street crimes have come from outside the state – a third of them from Indiana – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said tougher penalties ought to be a deterrent.
"I think that those mules that have been used year in and year out are going to have second thoughts about rolling the dice," he said.
Durkin said, for years, state laws have been focused on punishing the shooters responsible for gun violence, but not the people who supply illegal guns, and that needed to change.
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said it breaks her heart hearing the daily tally of shooting victims.
"Chicago does in fact lead the nation in the number of firearms that are recovered by law enforcement. Perhaps there's a connection to why we lead the nation in terms of firearm violence as well," she said.
Durkin said the gun violence in Chicago gives him pause when he visits the city.
"I don't know what's going to happen. That's got to stop. I mean, that's going to affect a lot of things. It's going to affect tourism. Sending your kids down to the city of Chicago, you've got to be very careful where they go. The gun violence every weekend seems to get bloodier and bloodier," he said.
The new gun trafficking law was approved by virtually unanimous votes in both the House and Senate.
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