Stopping the Flow of Illegal Guns into our Communities

An important bill will be under consideration this legislative year that is critical to our mission.  SB 1883 and HB 3422 propose the Gun Dealer and Ammunition Seller License that would require dealers to be licensed by the state, in addition to having a federal license.  Gun dealers are the most important link between gun manufacturers and the public.  They are also the largest source of illegally trafficked firearms in our nation according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF).

Current federal regulations do require gun dealers to be licensed, but lack of resources for oversight and enforcement has resulted in guns getting into the wrong hands far too often.  Many states have determined that state licenses for gun dealers can ensure better results. We want Illinois to join the 26 states that require state licensing for gun dealers.  These state laws enforce additional actions on dealers that decrease the possibility of straw gun purchases and theft from dealers so that guns will get into criminal hands less often.

Illinois needs this law.  There are 2000 gun dealers in the state, but four of these sold more than 3000 of the guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 alone.  Other dealers had sold an average of three guns traced to crime scenes in the same period.  We have to stop illegal gun trafficking in Illinois now.

The law would put into place some important safeguards.  There will be a pre-approval process for an initial license.  Once received, the license will have to be renewed every five years.  All owners and their employees will undergo required background checks like gun purchasers must do.  Inventory records and video recording of sales, as well as video security will be required to prevent and discourage theft and straw dog purchases.  Stores will be inspected twice per year and inventory records compared to actual stock.  Penalties for non-compliance can include loss of license, probation, fines up to $10,000 per violation and suspension.

I will keep you posted on the progress of this bill.  You will be able to help by completing witness slips and sending emails to legislators.  More details on this process will be in a follow up email.  Sign up for our emails here (join us). Please look for it and take action as soon as you receive it.

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.