85 Percent of Illinois Voters Support Requiring Gun Dealers to Be Licensed by the State


May 23, 2016

Contact: Mark Prentice, markp@responsiblesolutions.org, 425.999.5977

New Research Shows 85 Percent of Illinois Voters Support Requiring Gun Dealers to Be Licensed by the State, Giving State Authorities and Law Enforcement Tools to Ensure Better Gun Dealer Business Practices, Help Slow The Flow Of Illegal Guns In Illinois

Large Majorities of Voters in Suburban Cook County and Collar Counties, Gun Owners, Recent Republican Voters Also Support Changes to Illinois’ Laws Proposed in the “Gun Dealer Licensing Act” Currently Before Illinois Legislature

From 2009 to 2013, 40 Percent of Guns Used in Crimes in Chicago Came From Within Illinois

CHICAGO, IL – Recent research conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the national gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, found that 85 percent of Illinois voters support the proposed changes to state law in the “Gun Dealer Licensing Act” now before the legislature, including requiring Illinois gun dealers to be licensed by the state and giving state authorities and law enforcement the tools to encourage better business practices among gun dealers.

The survey also found that large majorities of voters in suburban Cook County and the Collar counties, gun owners, and recent Republican voters support the changes called for in the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Over 90 percent of voters in suburban Cook County, over 85 percent of voters in the Collar counties, and over 77 percent of downstate voters support requiring firearms dealers to be licensed by the state.

  • Nearly 86 percent of self-identified independents and more than 82 percent of voters who supported a Republican in the previous election also said they support giving the state the authority to license gun dealers and ensure better business practices.

  • More than 77 percent of Illinois gun owners said they support requiring gun dealers to be licensed by the state.

More than 79% of the state’s voters also said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports licensing gun dealers in the state and measures to improve their business practices.

For a memo with additional details on the results of the new research, please click here.

“Responsible changes to Illinois’ laws that can help keep guns out of the wrong hands simply aren’t controversial. As this new research shows, voters from across the state – including gun owners, Democrats, Republicans and Independents – agree that state authorities and law enforcement need the tools to hold negligent dealers accountable and crack down on the illegal gun trade,” said Robin Lloyd, State Legislative Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “As leaders in the legislature debate this commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence, we hope they keep in mind the broad, bipartisan support among their constituents for responsible changes to Illinois’ laws proposed in the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. We urge the leaders in the Illinois legislature to support these changes and act to make communities in Illinois safer.”

The new research comes on the heels of Congresswoman Giffords’ visit to Illinois last month to help launch the new Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition and urge legislators to support the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. The coalition, which includes gun violence prevention groups, community advocates, and faith groups, has helped lead the fight in support of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which aims to hold corrupt dealers accountable to slow the flow of illegal gun trafficking in Illinois and help keep guns out of the wrong hands. Read more about the Gun Dealer Licensing Act here.

The Gun Dealer Licensing Act will help slow the the flow of illegal guns through a number of small changes to the state’s laws, including:

  • Requiring Criminal Background Checks for Gun Dealer Employees: Gun store employees often have access to huge inventories of guns and it is just common sense to make sure that the dealer and employees are just as responsible as the buyers.

  • Ensuring Our Background Check System Can Work Better By Training Employees: The bill would ensure that dealers and their employees know how to conduct background checks, identify and stop straw purchases, and properly store guns to prevent thefts.

  • Ensuring Gun Dealers Are Held Accountable: IDFPR and law enforcement would have the ability to inspect licensed gun dealers, so we can make sure all gun dealers are adhering to the same set of minimum business standards.

Negligent gun dealers within Illinois fuel the illegal gun trade. From 2009 to 2013, 40 percent of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from gun dealers within Illinois. But thanks to loopholes in federal law and a lack of federal resources for enforcement, Illinois lacks the tools and authority it needs to combat illegal or negligent business practices that threaten Illinois families.

Between 2002 – 2014, 14,273 people were killed with guns in Illinois, nearly three times the number of all U.S. combat troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. A person is killed with a gun in Illinois every eight hours. In 2014, 1,179 people were killed by guns in Illinois. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Groups represented in the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition include:

ABJ Community Services

All Saints Episcopal—Chicago

Americans for Responsible Solutions

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Catholic Charities

Center for American Progress

Chicago Area Peace Action

Chicago Board of Rabbis

Chicago Survivors

Chicagoland Brady Chapter

Community of Congregations

Community Renewal Society

Countryside Unitarian Church

Emanuel Congregation

Emanuel Lutheran Church, Rockford

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faith Community of St. Sabina Greater Institutional AME Church Gun Responsibility Advocates

Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC)

Howard Area Community Center

Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Illinois Conference of Churches

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV)

Increase the Peace Englewood Jewish Council on Urban A airs

Joint Action Committee for Political A airs (JAC PAC)

Lake Street Church of Evanston

League of Women Voters of Illinois

Moms Rising

National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore

National Gun Victims Action Council

National Youth Advocate Program

Northwest Suburbs Organizing for Action

Open Communities

Organizing Catholics for Justice

Organizing for Action Chicago North Chapter

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Parents for Peace and Justice

Peace & Justice Committee Episcopal Diocese of Chicago

Peace & Justice Committee of St. Giles, Oak Park

Peaceful Communities

People for a Safer Society Presbyterian Church USA Progressive Community Church Purpose Over Pain

Quinn Chapel AME Church

Saint Joseph Anglican—Spring eld

Strengthening Chicago’s Youth

Seabury Western Theological Seminary

St. Felicitas Catholic Church

St. Francis Xavier Parish

St. Joseph Anglican

The Peace & Justice Committee of St. Edmunds

United Church of Christ United Church of Rogers Park United Methodist Church


As the Lake County State’s Attorney, I am honored and humbled every day to lead the fight against crime, and to strive to ensure equal and just treatment under the law. I have been an attorney for twenty-two years – and each of those years has made me a stronger and smarter advocate for people, for ideas, and for the principles that unite us all.

I am so proud to lead an office of 140 dedicated colleagues who serve the public by prosecuting crime, advocating for victims, and planning crime prevention programs. I am also proud to work with hundreds of Lake County police officers on a daily basis to connect with every community and to develop comprehensive, holistic plans to respond to the mental health and economic crisis that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one particular day, July 4, 2022, I was saddened, inspired, and motivated by the bravery of so many people. We will always stand with the victims and honor the police and other first responders who ran toward the danger. Just as so many heroes that day thought only of themselves, I also witnessed the prosecutors in my office answer the call to serve survivors and their community – even on one of its darkest days.

Every moment that I have been your legal representative, I have worked tirelessly to oversee prosecutions and to implement policies that make my family and my neighbors safer in the short term and in the long term. That is the job of the State’s Attorney: to prosecute, to innovate, and to strategically plan.

I was raised in a small town. My parents are teachers, and from them, I learned that everyone must be treated equally and that America’s sacred mission is to provide a political, economic, and legal system that allows anyone to prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth. After graduating from Knox College and the University of Chicago Law School, I spent two years at a first-rate civil law firm in Chicago where I learned that hard work and attention to detail on every case mean the difference between success and failure.

With my wonderful wife Stephanie, I am raising my two sons, Sam and Teddy, in Lake County. Nothing is more important to me than my family’s safety and I bring that passion and determination to protect all families with me to work every day.

I joined the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in 2003 and started my own law firm in 2009. From 2003 until 2020, I watched the Lake County legal system fail to prioritize violent crime, prevent wrongful prosecutions, or address racial disparities.

So, in 2019, I decided to run for State’s Attorney so that I could serve our community by improving a local legal system that cared more about covering up its mistakes and biases than uncovering new and innovative ways to help people.

I won the 2020 election, and became the first Democrat to hold this position in 40 years. Bringing in a new party wasn’t as important as ending 40 years of one mindset that had forgotten the people and that had failed to act urgently to develop new strategic plans to prevent crime while also ensuring that each prosecution is smart, moral, and just.

We have followed through on our promises. We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others.

We have been awarded a large federal grant to bring the first ever Human Trafficking Task Force to Lake County. We have deepened our investment in people by bringing in more victim specialists and raising the salaries of many of our prosecutors.

But the work goes on. We must expand our prevention efforts that are starting with the Gun Violence Prevention Initiative launched in 2022. And we know that the opioid crisis touches thousands of lives throughout this country.

I am proud to serve on the Executive Board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative which has been working tirelessly since its founding in 2012 to reverse a devastating trend of increased overdoses. In 2022, our office was part of a national settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

As an attorney of 22 years, I have committed my life to helping people, and I have conducted over 70 jury trials in Lake County, and handled appeals that have culminated in over 20 oral arguments before the appellate court and Supreme Court of Illinois.

I see my time in this office as the next phase of helping a community that I love and where I have chosen to raise my family. In my first term, we have made Lake County safer and fairer through just prosecutions, constitutional policing, and innovative crime prevention policies.