Gun Stores considered an Essential Service During IL’s “Stay at Home” Order

In a press conference today, Governor Pritzker issued an order that will require residents to “stay at home,” and only leave their homes for essential services like groceries and pharmacies. Remarkably, in Illinois gun stores are considered an essential service and will remain open.

As most Illinois residents stock their pantries, others are stocking up on firearms. Local outlets are reporting that gun sales across Illinois are soaring as a reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To keep Illinois residents safe, it is more important than ever that these gun sales have strong background checks. Under current law, an unlicensed seller must only verify that a prospective buyer has a valid FOID Card, but there is no requirement that a background check be conducted at the time of the sale.

The Illinois legislature is currently considering a shortened session with a small package of prioritized bills. In this critical hour, I encourage Governor Pritzker, and the IL Senate to prioritize the safety of our communities by supporting and calling for a vote on SB966, the BIO (Block Illegal Gun Ownership) Bill, which will fix the FOID card system and help put a stop to preventable gun violence tragedies in Illinois. This important Bill passed the House last year and I urge the Senate to support its passage.


The BIO Bill, SB 1966, strengthens the FOID system to ensure that people with violent criminal histories, who are prohibited from gun possession, are not able to evade the law and arm themselves. The BIO Bill would make the following key provisions to the current FOID system:

  • Reduce the FOID Card duration from 10 years to 5 years. Illinois is 1 of only 2 states where a license to purchase firearms is valid for 10 years. Shortening the length of time that a person can hold a firearm license has been associated with lower levels of gun violence, when coupled with other measures like fingerprinting.
  • Require a point-of-sale background check for all gun sales, including those by an unlicensed seller. Under current law, an unlicensed seller must only verify that a person looking to buy a gun has a valid FOID card. There is no requirement that a background check be conducted at the time of the sale. This bill would require that unlicensed sales be facilitated by a licensed gun dealer and include a background check.
  • Require applicants for FOID Cards to submit fingerprints as part of their application. This requirement will help ensure access to the applicant’s accurate criminal history.


The Illinois Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) is a non-partisan political action committee that was founded to counter the political influence of the gun industry and their lobby in Springfield, Illinois. G-PAC raises the resources necessary to protect and elect public officials who step up to fight the gun violence epidemic, and work against those who don’t support keeping our communities safe.



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.