As President Obama pushed for gun control in Chicago last Friday, an unexpected ally from his home state, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois, has crossed party lines to propose legislation that could have a greater impact than higher-profile proposals to ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Kirk is not against the gun-control measures that Mr. Obama is touting. In fact, he is the only Republican in the Senate who is on record saying he supports a ban on assault weapons. While a member of the House in 2008, he introduced legislation that would have renewed the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004, saying the weaponry ends up in the hands of gangs and exposes law-enforcement officers to dangers that even body armor can’t prevent.
The majority of guns confiscated or used in crimes in Chicago were purchased outside the city limits. The top source states for firearms recovered in Chicago include Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas. These southern states either have weaker gun laws.
Before Obama’s speech last week at Hyde Park Academy, Senator Gillibrand (Dem-NY) introduced a new bill which targets gun trafficking.
The bill defines gun trafficking as a crime. It focuses on cartels, street gangs, and makes it illegal to purchase, sell, or transfer more than one firearm to who could be reasonably expected to use it in a crime.
Gun shop owners who knowingly facilitate purchases such as this would also be liable, facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
“Kirk’s take is really interesting, no one else is talking about that,” Wayne Steger, a political scientist at DePaul University in Chicago, told the Tribune. “Gun running across state borders and selling to unlicensed and unregistered people is the big problem.”
Senator Kirk, who has reached out to gun control advocates is attempting to address a different aspect of gun violence.
Kirk said he wants to name the bill after Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who participated in Obama's inauguration and then was shot and killed in a South Side Chicago neighborhood, just minutes from where the Obama’s call home.
After asking her parents for permission, Kirk released a statement saying that “for Hadiya, and thousands of other victims of gun violence, we must break through the typical Washington process and actually get something done that will save lives.”