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March 23, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan's "Child Access Prevention" plan to require the safe storage of firearms was approved today by the Illinois Senate on a 37-14 vote and now moves on for consideration by the House.

Senate Bill 177 requires firearms stored at home to be fitted with a locking system, be placed in a locking container or stored in a secure location if the owner has reason to believe that a minor under the age of 14 may have access to the firearm.

"This 'CAP' legislation will help keep our children safe," Ryan said. "This is about saving lives. I applaud the Senate and any effort that keeps unsupervised guns out of the hands of minors and makes our homes safer places."

Senate Bill 177 states that a parent or guardian is responsible for the safe storage of their firearm. Gun owners who improperly store firearms can be convicted of Class C misdemeanor if minors under the age of 14 gain access to a firearm without the permission of their parent or guardian and cause bodily harm or death. The parent or guardian would receive a minimum fine of $1,000 and could be sentenced to up to two years of probation or up to 30 days in jail.

The CAP law does not apply if the minor has a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card, uses the firearm in the lawful act of self-defense or obtains the firearm by unlawfully entering a residence or the place where the firearm is stored.

Illinois ranks second-highest nationwide in youth gun homicides and is among 15 states that do not require parents or guardians to use trigger locks or regulate the storage of firearms. At least one child in Illinois is unintentionally killed by gunfire every month, and 91 percent of handguns involved in these shootings came from the home where the shooting occurred.

Senate Bill 177 was sponsored by Senator William F. Mahar, R-Orland Park.


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