Alvarez pushes for stolen gun notification

By Dan Carden
Daily Herald Staff
Published3/4/2009 1:58 PM

SPRINGFIELD - A proposal requiring Illinois gun owners to report a lost or stolen gun to police within 72 hours or face the possible loss of their right to own a gun was approved by an Illinois House committee Wednesday.

Proponents claim the plan will reduce gun crime and help police by making it easier to stop gun trafficking, trace stolen guns and prosecute people who steal guns.


"A lost or stolen requirement would help police identify suspicious patterns of behavior by persons who fail to file reports yet continually claim their guns were lost or stolen after they are recovered at a crime scene," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez testified at the hearing.

However, a representative of the National Rifle Association said he suspects if this proposal becomes law it will run afoul of a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing an individual's right to own a gun.

"This bill is absurd. It's laughable," said Todd Vandermyde, a NRA lobbyist. "You lose your right to own a firearm for failing to report a property crime?"

The proposal makes a second failure to report a lost or stolen gun a misdemeanor and permits state police to strip a violator's Firearms Owner's Identification Card. Without the card it's illegal to purchase or possess firearms or ammunition in Illinois. The Democratic-majority committee approved the proposal, 6-4, on a party-line vote.

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Alvarez said she finds the proposal constitutionally sound.

"I don't believe the way this particular law is written infringes on anyone's right to own a weapon. In fact, it protects them just as well as it protects society," Alvarez said. "Wouldn't it be better for you to have the proof that you in fact reported that gun lost or stolen when in fact it was?"

State Rep. Edward Sullivan Jr., a Mundelein Republican, was not persuaded by Alvarez. Sullivan said he's worried Chicago residents who own prohibited handguns will be prosecuted if those owners report their handguns stolen.

Chicago requires all guns be registered with police, but since 1982 the city has prohibited registration of handguns, effectively banning them. That law is being challenged following last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Alvarez said Sullivan's scenario seemed pretty unlikely.

"I hardly think they're going to walk into my office to report they lost a gun they illegally had," Alvarez said.

The plan must still be approved by the full House, the state Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn in order to become law.

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