Legislation pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that would implement a statewide handgun registry was approved by a House committee Wednesday and will soon be considered by the full House.
House Bill 5831, sponsored by state Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest), was approved by the House Executive Committee by a party-line vote of 7-4, with all Democratic committee members supporting it, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Davis is optimistic the bill will also gain the support of the full House, especially since the legislation lowers the fee gun owners would have to pay from its current $65 to $20 each, according to the Tribune.
(Scroll down to watch a report on the handgun bill.)
"Handgun registration laws provide the cornerstone of responsible gun policy," Davis told the State Journal-Register. "It provides law enforcement with essential information about crime guns, reduces illegal firearms transfers and creates a fair system of accountability for gun owners. ... This is not about restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners."
The mayor has previously described the proposal as "a common sense gun legislation" and pointed out that just more than half of the guns recovered from Chicago crime scenes originate from inside illinois, but outside city limits -- creating an information gap for law enforcement officials.
"A state law requiring handgun owners to register their guns -- just like they register their cars -- will increase the safety of our residents," Emanuel said, according to the AP.
A separate bill (House Bill 5167) creating a new two percent tax on ammunition -- the revenue generated by which will support a trauma facility serving gunshot victims -- was also advanced by the same committee, according to the Associated Press. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) is pushing the ammo bill.
Todd Vandermyde, Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, told the AP that "once again, the rest of the state is being bled for Cook County."
The proposed statewide gun registry, which would charge those caught with unregistered guns with a felony, has been blasted by Republican lawmakers and downstate legislators from both parties.
There's "just no damned way we're going to let that happen," state Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) said last month. "I don't know what possessed Mayor Emanuel to come up with this, but it's the wrong way to deal with violent crime."
Of the ammunition bill, Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said "the lawful firearm owners of this state are under no obligation to pay medical bills racked up by gang bangers, druggies and other violent criminals."
"HB5167 is just another scheme concocted by the Chicago Machine to punish law-abiding firearm owners," Pearson added in a statement.
Earlier this year, state officials announced that the number of people registering for state firearm owner's identification (FOID) cards was on the rise statewide. The state is currently home to some 1.4 million FOID-carrying gun owners and, even if each FOID holder registered just one gun each, the state would stand to take in an estimated $91 million under the proposal.
The revenue generated by the registry, proponents contend, will go toward crime-fighting efforts.
WATCH a report on the proposed statewide handgun registry bill: