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Jennifer Kirby/MEDILL

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle addresses commissioners at the board meeting Tuesday.

New Cook County law will fine gun owners who fail to report lost, stolen firearms

by Jennifer Kirby
Feb 5, 2013

Gun owners in Cook County will be required to report the loss, theft or sale of a firearm within 48 hours or face fines of up to $2,000.

The new law, passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, requires county gun owners to provide the serial number, make and model of lost, stolen, sold or destroyed firearms to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. Failure to report will result in a $1,000 fine for first-time violators.

The maximum fine is $2,000 for the third and subsequent offense.

“We’re trying to move ahead with the things that are under our control,” Board President Toni Preckwinkle said after the meeting Tuesday. “Certainly we would like national legislation for these issues, but we’re going to do what we can in Cook County.”

Preckwinkle said 29 percent of firearms recovered by Chicago and area law enforcement officials are traced back to legal purchases in Cook County.

Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) was the chief sponsor of the legislation. Garcia said the law will deter straw purchases and prevent guns from getting into the hands of the wrong people.

It will also protect law-abiding gun owners implicated in crimes, said Álavaro R. Obregón, Garcia’s director of constituent services.

“It’s commonsense legislation,” he added.

Dr. David E. Olson, professor of criminal justice and criminology at Loyola University Chicago said the effectiveness of the law will probably be limited in terms of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

“Whether or not a fine will change people’s behavior, I’m not sure,” Olson said. “If I sell a gun to a friend of mine, I’ll report it. If I’m engaging in something illegal and I know it’s illegal, I don’t necessarily [report it].”

At Tuesday’s board meeting, commissioners offered condolences to the family of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old King College Prep student gunned down in a park blocks from her high school.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) said Tuesday during the meeting that this ordinance showed Cook County would use whatever resources possible to try to protect children from tragedies like this.

“We need to make sure that they [children] can all go on to make this world a better place for all of us,” Suffredin said.

The law will take effect in August.