Texas abortion law prompts Chicago lawmaker to push bill to allow civil lawsuits against illegal gun sellers

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Gun violence cost Brenda Mitchell her son, brother, several close friends and two godchildren.

The deaths prompted the woman from a southern suburb of University Park to work with Purpose Over Pain, Father Michael Pfleger and other activists to fight gun trafficking, straw buying and seek other avenues. to “help stop the bleeding”.

“Unfortunately the victims are getting younger and younger, and it’s like, as a human society, when do we say ‘enough?’ When do we say “stop the bleeding?” â€Mitchell asked.

The suburban activist is backing legislation that State Representative Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, plans to introduce soon.

The Democrat on the North Side, who has sought Mitchell’s advice on his legislation, hopes his bill targeting straw traders will have a “chilling” effect on such illegal gun purchases and transfers.

Croke’s legislation would allow Illinois residents to take civil action against the manufacturer, importer or dealer of a firearm if they, or a loved one, are injured or killed as a result illegal discharge of a firearm in the state.

State Representative Margaret Croke speaks at a press conference on the North Side in July.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times File

Only illegal sales would be targeted under Croke’s legislation. A gun linked to an illegal injury would mean the seller could only be prosecuted once, but if the gun is linked to 20 or more shootings it could mean 20 or more lawsuits against the seller, Croke said. .

The lawmaker highlighted reports of illegal weapons being used in shootings in the city as part of her efforts to table the legislation.

“I don’t see a lot of deterrence when it comes to the straw traders and the illegal transfer of firearms right now,†Croke said. “I see a lot of penalties in the criminal justice system, which I agree with… but I don’t see anything that deters the sale of illegal weapons, and I also think Chicago has the opportunity to be a leader. in this domain. … We have the opportunity to lead, for other states to copy this legislation and create a safer environment, safer neighborhoods for our children and for our families.

Croke’s measure is also referred to as the Protecting Heartbeats Act, a reference to recent Texas law that almost completely banned abortions in that state. The controversial Texas law places enforcement in the hands of private citizens who file civil suits, rather than prosecutors laying criminal charges.

The Chicago-based state lawmaker said she hopes to bring her anti-gun trafficking bill forward in the General Assembly’s veto session, which is expected to last six days over the past two weeks of October.

Croke said it was to hold people accountable in a civilian situation for “doing something that is already illegal” and added that she is not going after legal gun owners or to holders of gun owner ID cards, but rather “to the people who have decided that they are going to break the law and they are going to sell those guns in order to make a profit.”

An array of firearms Chicago police said confiscated officers were displayed at a press conference at police headquarters last year.

An array of firearms Chicago police said confiscated officers were displayed at a press conference at police headquarters last year.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times File

Mitchell said the measure would provide those who have lost a loved one to gun violence “a tool, a resource to get to the root, which could send a message” to illegal gun sellers. .

But Richard Pearson, the head of the Illinois State Rifle Association, doesn’t think attacking manufacturers is the way to curb the gun violence the state faces.

Pearson called the measure a “terrible bill” because the state “cannot control” what people do with guns or whatever.

He likened the measure to people suing farmers for accidents after agronomists sold their corn to a silo which in turn sells the grain to a company that makes alcohol, which is “ridiculous”.

None of the gun laws already in place in the United States “will stop criminal activity no matter what you do, because criminals want to be criminals,” Pearson said.

“The only thing that has worked in the past is – when you bring down crime rates – you put more police on the streets, you take the criminals who get caught, and you convict them and you put them in jail for A long period. and people decide to stop doing bad things, but, until you do, right now, it’s just going the other way around, like a revolving door, â€Pearson said. “It’s a pretty terrible system right now.”

A spokeswoman for Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement that the governor “strongly believes that we must explore all legal options to protect every life in this state and supports the constructive conversations that bring us closer to an end to gun violence .

“He looks forward to reviewing the bill,” she said.

Mitchell said Illinois generally welcomes “common sense gun laws.”

“We bury our children, we bury our potential, and you leave families and communities traumatized by an ineffective view of a person’s Second Amendment rights,” Mitchell said.


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