The Midwest can learn from Illinois’ gun safety laws


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Illinois is currently the sixth strictest state with gun laws.

Illinois’ gun control policies stand out in the Midwest like a rose in snow. While a majority of nearby states put little energy into prioritizing gun safety, Illinois currently maintains the sixth strictest gun control in the nation according to Everytown for Gun Safety Research and Policy. 

Among these policies are background checks and restrictions on who is able to purchase a firearm and how that firearm may be sold or stored, as addressed in the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. The Firearm Concealed Carry Act implements restrictions on how and where a gun may be carried in public. 

Illinois also upholds Firearm Restraining Order laws. One of 19 states in the nation to do so, these laws are known elsewhere as Extreme Risk Protection laws. 

The Firearm Restraining Order Act allows law enforcement the option to remove a firearm from an individual’s possession should they become a threat to the safety of others or themselves. 

Unfortunately, Illinois does not appear to reap the same benefits as states with similar levels of gun control, such as Connecticut and Maryland, which are fifth and seventh on Everytown’s rank of the nation’s strictest gun policies. 

According to Everytown’s research, for every 100,000 deaths, Illinois sees 14.1 due to gun violence. Meanwhile, Maryland sees 13.5 and Connecticut only six on the same scale.

Why is this? According to Gifford’s Law Center, much of the blame can be placed on the weak gun restrictions of neighboring states and the high numbers of firearms trafficked into Illinois. A 2019 study by Penn Medicine backed this claim, finding that “65% of the guns recovered in the most restrictive states (of possession of firearms) originated from other states.” 

According to Everytown, of the five states that border Illinois – Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri – not one requires even a permit to purchase a gun.

While policies between the states vary, each state has a higher rate of death due to gun violence than Illinois. Missouri is ranked by Everytown as among the worst states in the nation for gun violence with 23.9 deaths due to gun violence for every 100,000 deaths each year. 

On Oct. 24, a 15-year-old High School student and a 61-year-old physical education teacher were killed in a school shooting in St. Louis, Missouri. 

This tragedy is the 40th school shooting of 2022, according to tracking by Education Week

How have we allowed such indescribable loss to become the status quo of America? We grieve, but then witness resistance to any real progress, when protecting our children should be at the priority of our nation’s agenda. 

If Missouri and the states surrounding Illinois were to adopt similar gun policies, Illinois would finally see the full effect of its gun safety laws. More safely restricted guns nearby would result in fewer guns passing over borders and into Illinois. Not only Illinois would reap additional benefits, but naturally those states themselves would experience decreased gun violence. 

The math should be simple: fewer firearms, fewer firearm-related deaths.  

Gun control does work. These policies do cause change, prevent violence and save lives. Unfortunately, half the work in enacting such policies is convincing the nation of their effectiveness. This is our next step. Allow Illinois to stand as an example for the Midwest and protect our state, our country and our children from needless death.