RELEASE: G-PAC’s Gun Violence Prevention Bill Signed Into Law By Governor Pritzker

-PAC Brings Gun Violence Prevention Advocates And Gun Owners Together To Enact Major Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

SPRINGFIELD — Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) Illinois today made major strides toward reducing gun violence, capitalizing on a multi-year advocacy campaign to deliver a major piece of gun violence prevention legislation that Governor JB Pritzker signed into law. The bill passed on a bipartisan basis and is a major victory for gun violence prevention advocates and law-abiding gun owners alike, reducing gun violence by expanding background checks to all gun sales, investing $9 million in mental health funding for impacted communities, creating a stolen gun database, and requiring the Illinois State Police to monitor state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers.

“Today our coalition delivered, organizing to ensure Governor Pritzker and legislators from both parties could take a major step forward in reducing the gun violence that plagues Illinois every day, in particular our Black and Brown communities,” said Kathleen Sances, President of Gun Violence Prevention PAC Illinois. “While the scourge of gun violence is a major equity issue that will not go away overnight, survivors and violence prevention advocates across the country can look at our coalition’s major victory and know that we can pass common sense measures that save lives without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

G-PAC Illinois ensured this legislation became law, successfully executing a multi-six-figure advocacy campaign that included a targeted social media program, a targeted constituent organizing program, and a digital day of action reaching over a half million people. In addition to implementing real universal background checks and increasing mental health funding to confront Illinois’ gun violence epidemic, the legislation also rectifies FOID card inefficiencies and incentivizes fingerprinting for FOID applicants to help reduce the application backlog.

Specifically, HB 562 includes the following critical gun violence prevention measures:

  • Federal background checks via NICS will be required for all private, person-to-person gun sales.
  • Private gun sales with a thorough background check can now be conducted either online or at a brick and mortar gun dealer.
  • Private sales records will include make, model, and serial number of the gun. The seller of the firearm will be required to send the sales record to a Federal Firearms License dealer (FFL), who will keep the record for 20 years.
  • $9 million from the mental health reporting fund will be directed to mental health services in communities most impacted by gun violence.
  • Requirements that the ISP run correlations records continuously, monitoring state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers.
  • A database of stolen guns will be created to screen for illegal guns.
  • Fingerprint incentives will be provided to reduce application fees, create automatic renewals every ten years, and prevent dangerous people from getting access to guns.

Critical to the new legislation is the new, true universal background check that closes dangerous loopholes that allow guns to enter the illegal market. All private sales of guns in Illinois must now go through an online portal and records of sales, including serial numbers, must be sent to a licensed, brick and mortar FFL. Records of these sales will ensure that all guns that are sold in Illinois and later used in crime can be traced to the seller. This will improve clearance rates which is critical in decreasing everyday gun violence and helping survivors of gun violence find justice.

In addition to Governor Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Kelly, Senate Sponsors Leader Dave Koehler and Sen. Ram Villivalam and House Sponsors Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Leader Jay Hoffman have been strong advocates for this legislation. The signing of this bipartisan bill follows the release of more evidence showing that gun violence is an equity issue, as new data compiled by the National Violence Center revealed Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in black homicides.

G-PAC Illinois is a gun violence prevention advocacy organization founded by survivors in 2013 to counter the influence of the gun lobby in Springfield. G-PAC recently launched the “Our One Job” campaign, a digital advertising and grassroots advocacy effort to pass universal background checks and curb the flow of illegal guns that cause too many preventable gun violence tragedies. You can view a version of the ad here.

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.