Illinois’ new gun law a victory not just for safety, but for the nation

Gov. Pat Quinn lost the battle with his amended version of the concealed carry legislation when lawmakers overrode his veto this past summer. But he didn’t stop touting his public safety mission, which started with his State of the State address earlier this year.

Relative to other states, Illinois already has tight gun laws: You can be charged for buying guns for someone else, you need a permit before buying a weapon and gun shops are required to ask for permits. Yet one piece was missing: background checks, a new requirement to help close a loophole in the original concealed carry legislation. Also, gun owners are now required to report all missing guns to local authorities — whether they’re lost, stolen or just misplaced — within 72 hours.

This change has an impact that reaches far beyond state borders — it’s a national victory.

Quinn’s addition is especially necessary when the concealed carry legislation goes into full effect — when ordinary people can start carrying guns in public. How many people are planning to apply for concealed carry permits when registration opens Jan. 5 is anyone’s guess, but guns will be more accessible — to what effect remains unknown.

Last year, Illinois citizens reported more than 3,000 stolen guns, while no lost guns were reported, according to a report published by the federal government last year. The National Crime Information Center compiles these numbers on a regular basis. Although this number is far behind a group of southern states — such as Texas, which leads the way with close to 19,000 guns reported lost — it’s important to think about how that number can change following increased availability of guns.

For example, Texas is considered a state with lenient gun laws: A state permit to purchase a weapon isn’t required, nor is it mandated that owners carry their license or require them to register it.

Even with the enactment of concealed carry — whether applicable to campuses or communities — these additional requirements are purposeful and necessary. Hopefully fewer guns will fall into the wrong hands, and those who do own weapons will use them in accordance with the law. Quinn will continue to push for additional provisions to the concealed carry legislation, but regardless, it’s a step — for Quinn who has been the subject of many individuals’ doubts, and for the state as well. It’s a step toward the public safety mission Quinn embraces.