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Governor to shore up gun control

Screening to expand; anti-data bill doomed

By Christi Parsons

After a decade of work by gun-control activists, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday plans to sign a new state law requiring background checks for all buyers at gun shows, closing what police say is a wide-open avenue for gangs and other illegal purchasers to get firearms.

In a second action also supported by many law-enforcement officials, Blagojevich plans this weekend to veto a measure that would have required the Illinois State Police to clear out most records of background checks within 90 days of their creation.

That measure, if not rejected by the governor, would obliterate a database that police say helps them track the buying habits of gunrunners who supply gangs and other criminals with firearms.

"Illinois is plagued by gun violence," said Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the bill the governor plans to sign. "Instead of tying the hands of law enforcement, we need to help law enforcement in their fight against this plague. Law-abiding hunters are not going to be affected by this, but it will affect criminals and gunrunners."

Critics complain that the governor is being unfair by refusing to do away with the database, which they say police use to harass law-abiding gun owners. Gun groups predict Blagojevich could suffer among Downstate voters who value their right to bear arms.

But Blagojevich is betting that voters will view his actions as common-sense crime-fighting measures.

Hedging that bet, Blagojevich has spent a good part of the past year wooing downstate Democrats, in part by investing public money in a new state-of-the-art shooting complex in the southern Illinois town of Sparta. He also has signed other National Rifle Association-backed bills during his administration.

On the hot-button topic of criminal background checks, state lawmakers put Blagojevich on the spot during their spring legislative session.

At present, only federally licensed firearm dealers have to conduct criminal background checks. Police have long maintained that illegal buyers attend the gun shows and buy guns from unlicensed dealers, who aren't required to call the state police hotline to check backgrounds when selling at the shows.

To close that so-called loophole, lawmakers sent two versions to the governor.

One version was a compromise backed by the NRA. It contained the provision requiring the state police to clear their records of background checks 90 days after approval.

But in a victory for gun-control forces--and especially Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who has championed the change for years--lawmakers passed another version of the gun-show bill without the provision for the destruction of records.

On Friday and over the weekend, the governor plans to sign the Daley-backed bill into law and veto the NRA-backed bill, Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said.

Gun owners are troubled by the choice.

"Our biggest concern is that this doesn't get rid of the database," said Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, the state sister organization of the NRA. "We're worried about the nefarious use of that."

If the governor is worried about Downstate voters, Pearson said, he should make sure state law protects their guns.

"I'm sure Sparta helps," Pearson said. "But it's not everything. Everybody can't go to the shooting range. But everybody is affected by state law."

But Osterman said he doesn't believe Downstate voters will hold this decision against the governor. Law-abiding gun owners have to submit to a background check when they buy a gun at a store, Osterman said, and they don't see why others shouldn't have to do the same to avoid sales to criminals.

"I think the NRA has made a mythical problem where there is none," Osterman said. "The implementation of this law is going to find that hunters and sportsmen are not affected, and we are going to be able to show next year that this law stopped criminals from buying guns. Once that proof is there, it's going to be hard for anyone in the state of Illinois to say this wasn't necessary."

Of the 157,440 people who applied to buy guns in Illinois last year, 1,108 were denied, state records show. More than 500 of those applicants had expired or canceled firearm owner's permits. The rest were ineligible for reasons including felony convictions, mental incapacity and domestic battery offenses.

The records-destruction bill would have wiped out the records of the approved applications, but not the denied ones.,1,4524181.story?coll=chi-newslocalwest-hed

*FW Note:

As usual, government takes the easy way out and inflicts another lash at lawful gun owners, rather than taking on the real issue of confronting crime. If you can't eliminate the crime that exists, create a new crime from thin air to make it look like something is being done.

Criminal background checks aren't intended to catch existing criminals, the process is designed to create new ones by catching citizens in the process of doing things that used to be perfectly legal.


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Criminal background checks aren't intended to catch existing criminals, the process is designed to create new ones by catching citizens in the process of doing things that used to be perfectly legal.
I think you hit the nail on the head with that statement, FW. Makes a man wonder what rights they will be stripping US citizens in the next 10 or 20 years.

I still love that old saying "My guns have killed less people than Ted Kennedys car" So true.

My thoughts about these left wing good for nothing legislaters can be sumed up by my signature...
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