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'This is commonsense legislation:' state lawmaker, advocates tout legislation to ban ghost guns in Illinois

Proposed legislation would crack down on ghost guns in Illinois 01:46

CHICAGO (CBS) -- So-called ghost guns are as easy to build as a piece of furniture, and also nearly impossible to trace.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Monday, there is a push to make ghost guns illegal in Illinois – with more and more of them showing up in Chicago every year.

Ghost guns can be made with a 3-D printer and an at-home kit. They are untraceable, unserialized, and dangerous.

According to information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the number of ghost guns - or privately made firearms - is going up every year. Ghost guns are also tied to 325 homicides or attempted homicides nationwide since 2016.

In Chicago, police confiscated 455 ghost guns last year - more than twice the number confiscated in New York City. Nationwide, in 2019, law enforcement discovered 10,000 ghost guns.

Ten states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington state, and also the District of Columbia – already have laws against ghost guns on the books.

That is why Illinois state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), says the bill he introduced Friday is so important."Other states are already regulating these firearms, and it's Illinois' time to do the same," Buckner said. "This is commonsense legislation."

The bill – Illinois House Bill 5731 – will specifically ban the transfer, purchase, manufacture, importation, and possession of ghost guns; prohibit the printing of ghost guns with 3-D printers; and require unserialized guns to become serialized and traceable.

"This is a fight for the soul of our future," Buckner said. "We cannot continue to let our city and our streets be overrun by ghost guns and by those who do harm to our communities." 

The advocacy group Gun Violence Prevention Inc., or G-PAC, said a previous bill against ghost guns was got stuck in the Assignments Committee of the state Senate and did not advance before the deadline.

The new bill has a chance of moving forward ahead of the adjournment of the Illinois General Assembly on Friday, April 8.

"These untraceable, homemade ghost guns are a clear and present danger to our communities," Kathleen Sances, President and Chief Executive Officer of G-PAC, said in a news release. "Their easy availability is a constant threat to children, families and first responders and provides deadly firepower for people, especially white supremacist and terrorist groups, who want to commit acts of violence without being detected."

Information was not available on how many people have been shot with ghost guns in Illinois, With regard specifically to Chicago, the Chicago Police Department said it did not have the information available.

An ATF spokesperson said the agency does not believe the number of ghost guns reported to the agency is representative of the actual number of such guns recovered by law enforcement.

"ATF provides the ability to trace firearms to our law enforcement partners, but many do not submit privately made firearms. Additionally, ATF is often not the lead law enforcement agency in an investigation and may be unaware of local or state law enforcement agencies with privately made firearms in their possession. Further, the number of ATF recoveries is not representative of the total number of recoveries in a particular area," the ATF said. "We would refer you to local or state agencies who may be able to provide a more reliable data point."

But the ATF did include data showing that the number of ghost guns – referred to here as PMFs – recovered from crime scenes has been on the rise in recent years:

"In recent years, the number of PMFs recovered from crime scenes throughout the country has increased. From January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2020, there were approximately 23,906 suspected PMFs reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides, and that were attempted to be traced by ATF, broken down by year as follows: 

 
·    2016: 1,750

·    2017: 2,507

·    2018: 3,776

·    2019: 7,161

·    2020: 8,712

Information was not available on how many people have been shot with ghost guns in Illinois, With regard specifically to Chicago, the Chicago Police Department said it did not have the information available.

Among other states, the law in New York state is the strongest – making it illegal to possess or sell a ghost gun. Some of the other states have laws that are not as strong, and some laws are too vague to be enforced.  

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