A doctor at Rush has joined others physicians from across the Chicago area to urge support of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. The state legislation (Senate Bill 1657) requires the licensing of Illinois gun dealers by the state in order to create greater accountability for ensuring they do not contribute to illegal gun trafficking.
Sherald Leonard, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Rush, was among the physicians who joined Illinois state Sen. Don Harmon and state Rep. Kathleen Willis, the bill’s lead authors, at an Oct. 30 news conference in support of the legislation at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
"I have been interested in finding way to decrease the carnage of our youth from gun violence for many years," Leonard says. "I attended the news conference because gun violence is a public health emergency affecting the children and families that we care for physically, emotionally and psychologically.
"This legislation could create more accountability from the gun dealers, and therefore be a path to decreasing the number and availability of guns on the streets. Ultimately, less gun violence would hopefully lead to a healthier environment for the children and families that we serve."
22 percent of hospital visits for gun injuries are by children
Gun injuries are the leading cause of death among Illinois children. In 2016, 22 percent (680) of the more than 3,000 visits to Illinois hospitals related to non-fatal gun injuries were to children age 19 years or younger. The problem is statewide, with one-third of all firearm injuries in the state in 2016 occurring outside of Chicago.
A report released this past weekend by the city of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab shows nearly a quarter of all guns recovered from crime scenes between 2013 and 2016 in Chicago were sold by just 10 gun dealers, seven of which are located in Illinois. Supporters of the legislation say that SB 1657 will help stop illegally trafficked firearms from entering Illinois communities.
The legislation would require background checks for dealers and their employees, as well as training to prevent what is known as straw purchasing — when a person who is legally able to buy a gun purchases one for somebody who isn’t a legal buyer — and training in proper security measures. SB 1657 also would allow for videotaping of gun transactions so that straw purchasers can be identified.
The bill passed out of the Illinois Senate in the spring, and the Illinois House of Representative will take action the second week of the veto session, which began Nov. 7.