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April 28, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan's "Child Access Prevention" proposal requiring the safe storage of unsupervised firearms around children was approved today by the Illinois House.

The proposal passed the Illinois House on a 75-34-4 roll call and now moves to the governor's desk. Ryan pledged during the last campaign to sign a "CAP" bill into law.

The measure, contained in Senate Bill 177, requires unsupervised 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.

"I am very pleased that the General Asssembly has agreed that we need to do more to keep unsupervised guns out of the reach of children," Ryan said. "This bill is about saving innocent lives, not about controlling the use of firearms. Too often we hear about children getting hold of an unsupervised gun in their home or a neighbor's home and causing grave injuries or death. We need to do all we can to prevent these tragedies."

Under the "CAP" bill, 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 in question could 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 bill 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 a place where a firearm is stored.

Senate Bill 177 was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. William F. Mahar, R-Orland Park; Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills; David Sullivan, R-Park Ridge; William Peterson, R-Long Grove; Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood; Kathleen Parker, R-Northbrook and Barack Obama, D-Chicago.

In the House, the legislation was sponsored by Reps. James Durkin, R-Westchester; Louis Lang, D-Skokie; Eileen Lyons, R-Western Springs; Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago; Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove and Lauren Beth Gash, D-Highland Park.


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