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June 7, 1999

Governor Signs Child Access Prevention Bill Into Law

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed the landmark Child Access Prevention legislation sending a clear message that unsupervised guns should be safely stored and kept out of the hands of children.

Ryan visited Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park with Senator William Mahar, R-Orland Park, who was chief sponsor of Senate Bill 177.

"School shootings and killings are no longer isolated incidents that we can ignore because it hasn't happened here. We must realize that it can and will happen here, if we don't take some action," Ryan said. "This law is not designed to infringe on anyone's rights. This law is designed to prevent innocent children from injuring or killing themselves or others."

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.

Senate Bill 177 creates a new offense to make gun owners responsible for the safe storage of a firearm. Gun owners who improperly store firearms can be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor with fines of at least $1,000.

The CAP law does not apply if the minor in question has a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card, uses the firearm in self-defense or obtains the firearm by unlawful entry of a residence.

Ryan said Illinois needs the new law in part because the state ranks second-highest nationwide in youth gun homicides. Illinois is now among 17 states that require parents or guardians to use trigger locks or regulate the storage of firearms, he said.

"At least one child in Illinois is unintentionally killed by gunfire every month, and that's one child too many," Ryan added. Statistics show that 91 percent of handguns involved in these shootings came from the home where the shooting occurred.

Additional Senate sponsors of Senate Bill 177 were Sen. Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; Sen. Terry Link, D-Highwood; Sen. David Sullivan, R-Park Ridge; Sen. Bill Peterson, R-Prairie View; Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago; Sen. Kathy Parker, R-Northbrook; Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago. House sponsors of Senate Bill 177 were Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Westchester; Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie; Rep. Eileen Lyons, R- LaGrange; Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago; Rep. Lauren Beth Gash, D-Deerfield; and Rep. Sydney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove.


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