Originally cited at: www.lwvil.org/GunControl.html

Gun Control

League of Women Voters of Illinois
Gun Control Position-in-Brief

The League supports legislative controls to stop the proliferation of private ownership of handguns and their irresponsible use. The League advocates restricting access to semi-automatic assault type weapons.

Handgun Control

The League believes that the proliferation of the private ownership of handguns and their irresponsible use must be controlled through legislation. The League, therefore, supports a ban on the further manufacture, sale, transportation and importation for private ownership of handguns and their parts. There should be a clear statutory definition of "Saturday Night Specials" which would make their regulation enforceable. The League supports restrictive regulation of all handguns and ammunition, enforcement of existing regulations at all levels of government, strict penalties for handgun crimes and better regulation of handgun dealers.

Handgun owners must assume complete responsibility for their handguns. To this end, the League supports registration of the handgun itself which will allow it to be traced to its owner. There should be comprehensive licensing procedures, with gun safety education, fingerprinting, photographs, plus a verification of the applicant's qualifications and a permit system that restricts handgun ownership. The cost of these programs should be borne by fees paid by the handgun owner sufficient to cover a careful system which ideally would be administered locally under federal guidelines. The sale of ammunition should also be regulated.

There should be additional penalties and strict enforcement for all crimes committed with a handgun. All dealers selling handguns must be carefully regulated to assure that they are legitimate dealers and not merely persons wishing to have access to interstate shipments. The League recommends high fees, annual renewal of licenses and a thorough investigation of dealers and their places of business. The League supports the need for further controls or elimination of mail order sales and interstate shipments.

The League supports handgun safety education only if it is required for owners as part of the licensing procedure, does not promote or glorify handgun usage or ownership, and is used to convey the dangers of handgun misuse and ownership.

The League favors federal legislation governing the use of handguns but will support state legislation meeting League criteria. The League will not support state or federal legislation for specific areas only, such as metropolitan or high crime areas.

Assault Weapon Control

The League advocates restricting access to semi-automatic assault type weapons. These weapons present a clear and unequivocal danger to public safety. Therefore, the League believes that it is essential to restrict or prohibit the possession and sale, manufacture, importation and transportation of semi-automatic assault type weapons for private ownership. Additionally, the sale of ammunition for these weapons should be restricted or prohibited. The League favors restrictive legislation at both the state and federal levels.

The position on handgun control was reached in 1976 after a statewide study. The assault-type weapons position was adopted by the 1989 State Convention. LWVIL led the successful effort to adopt a national gun control position on the floor of the 1990 LWVUS Convention.

The League has actively supported legislation to increase controls on handguns, restrict or prohibit access to semi-automatic assault weapons and require gun owners to keep their firearms secured from children. After the 1990 national position was adopted, LWVIL continued its lobbying efforts in Congress for the Brady Bill.