Gun violence has a significant impact on our youth. In 2016 in Illinois, 22% of all hospital visits related to gun injuries were for children age 19 years or younger. A recent report released on October 29, 2017 by the City of Chicago, Chicago Police Department and University of Chicago Crime lab shows nearly a quarter of all guns recovered from crime scenes between 2013-2016 in Chicago were sold by just 10 gun dealers, seven of which are located in Illinois.
Lurie Children’s stands together with State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), Chicago children’s hospitals, statewide child health organizations including the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and violence prevention advocates to urge the passage of Senate Bill 1657. SB 1657 requires licensing of gun dealers by the state to create greater accountability for ensuring they do not contribute to illegal gun trafficking. Senator Harmon and Representative Willis are the chief bill sponsors. The bill passed out of the Illinois Senate in the spring and the House will take action the second week of the veto session which begins November 7, 2017.
“Gun dealer licensing is a strategy that we already know works. 15 states and the District of Columbia currently license gun dealers, and research shows that such requirements result in fewer illegally trafficked firearms within the state,” says Becky Levin, Executive Director of Lurie Children’s violence prevention program Strengthening Chicago’s Youth.
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 on behalf of somebody who isn’t a legal buyer — and training on proper security measures. SB 1657 also would allow for videotaping of gun transactions so that straw purchasers can be identified.
“At Lurie Children’s, our one job is to ensure kids’ optimal health. Certainly we do this by providing world class clinical care and conducting cutting edge research. But we also need to provide safe neighborhoods where children can play and be physically active,” says Matt Davis, MD, MAPP, Director Academic General Pediatrics, Director of the Smith Child Health Research, Outreach and Advocacy Center and the Associate Chief Research Officer for Health Services and Policy Research here at Lurie Children’s. “We can help kids be mentally healthy by preventing them from being traumatized by the frequent sound of gunfire, and we can protect children and their families and friends from being shot. SB 1657 will help curb a major source of illegally trafficked firearms from entering our communities where our children live, grow and play.”
Strengthening Chicago’s Youth is a violence prevention collaborative convened by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to support, coordinate and unite partners to promote policy and environmental change to prevent violence before it occurs.
SCY’s mission is to build capacity among hundreds of public and private stakeholders to connect, collaborate and mobilize around a public health approach to violence prevention—adopting consistent messaging about the preventability of violence, promoting the use of evidence-based violence prevention strategies and fostering multi-sector collaboration—to encourage partnerships that strengthen existing efforts and benefit the children of Chicago.