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County OKs plan aimed at illegal guns in Chicago

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013

CHICAGO (AP) — In an effort to slow the flow of illegal guns to Chicago streets, county commissioners approved an ordinance Tuesday that imposes fines of as much as $2,000 on suburban residents who fail to report when their guns are lost, stolen or given to someone else.

The Cook County ordinance is aimed at so-called straw purchasers, who legally buy guns but give them to convicted felons or others barred from owning firearms. Law enforcement, including Chicago's top police official, say such purchases are largely responsible for illegal guns spilling into Chicago — home to one of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation — and other nearby communities.

In fact, one study found that more than 1,300 guns confiscated by Chicago police since 2008 were purchased at a single store in Cook County that's just outside city limits.

"The 'burbs are flooding Chicago with guns continuously," said Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who said Cook County accounts for as much as 30 percent of the guns legally sold in Illinois. "And this ordinance raises the bar on the responsibility of gun owners as it relates to lost, stolen or transferred guns."

Under the ordinance, which takes effect in August, gun owners will be required to report the make, model and serial number of their weapon to the Cook County sheriff's office within 48 hours of it being lost, stolen, sold or otherwise transferred to someone else. Failure to comply carries a $1,000 fine for the first violation, $1,500 for each gun on the second offense, and $2,000 after that.

Despite its own strict gun-control ordinance, Chicago surpassed 500 homicides last year — the vast majority of which were fatal shootings. And last month marked the city's deadliest January in more than a decade, averaging more than one homicide a day.

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