CHICAGO (CBS) — Just days after being sworn in as governor, JB Pritzker has signed a sweeping gun reform bill into law. The legislation requires firearms dealers in Illinois to obtain state licenses.
The measure also mandates that all gun dealers run background checks on their employees, install video surveillance systems inside stores, and maintain an electronic database of all firearm sales.
Pritzker said the new measures will save lives.
“That’s what today is all about; the lives that we will save going forward because we get to sign this legislation into law, and prevent more violence on our streets,” Pritzker said.
Some of those gathered around the governor were parents and loved ones of young people killed in Chicago shootings. So it was a moment rich in symbolism and meaning for longtime gun control advocates.
“Thank you for allowing me to speak on this very important day. Thank you for allowing me to honor my daughter Tyesa’s memory. We’re actually on her anniversary of becoming an angel. I know she’s looking down smiling at all of us and saying we did it,” said Delphine Cherry, whose daughter Tyesa was shot and killed on Jan. 17, 1992 outside Chestnut Station Theatre. Prosecutors said the gunman was aiming for a rival gang member.
About 20 years after that, Cherry lost her youngest son when he too was shot dead. It’s the type of story that all to many parents in the state understand because they have lost children to gun violence.
State lawmakers had been debating gun dealer licensing legislation for 15 years before passing this legislation last year.
Illinois State Sen. Don Harmon first introduced a proposed gun dealer licensing bill in the General Assembly in 2003. He never guessed it would take this long to have a signing ceremony.
Lawmakers passed a similar measure last February, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, calling it unnecessary and redundant. The Illinois General Assembly later passed another version of the legislation, but Senate President John Cullerton held back the paperwork until Pritzker took office, to avoid another Rauner veto.
Supporters have called it commonsense legislation, but opponents have said it’s classic government overreach. Gun rights advocates said the measure would run small dealers out of business due to the cost of the new regulations.