Illinois has become the first state in the Midwest to pass legislation banning untraceable “ghost guns” amid a surge of gun violence in the United States.
On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 4383, banning the so-called ghost guns across the state.
The term refers to firearms that can be assembled at home from parts purchasable online without background checks, according to gun violence prevention organization Everytown for Gun Safety. They do not have serial numbers, allowing them to be untraceable.
“We are seeing these unseralized guns being built in basements by those who should never have had access to such dangerous weapons and then used to commit heinous crimes, and it must be stopped to keep Illinoisans safe,” Pritzker said in a statement.
“The people creating, selling, and purchasing these firearms know that they’re working to circumvent common-sense gun laws that ensure guns stay out of the hands of traffickers, abusers, and convicted criminals,” the governor said.
Pritzker’s office further warned that because ghost guns are cheaper and easier to acquire than other firearms, they “are more accessible to young people.”
Already in May, his office said, at least two Illinois teenagers were charged with possession of “ghost guns,” including one case that saw a loaded gun brought to a high school.
Meanwhile, Illinois State Police have worked on at least 28 cases concerning ghost guns so far in May alone, Pritzker’s office said.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration ramped up efforts to address the use of ghost guns, reclassifying building kits for ghost guns as firearms and requiring serialization.
In a statement, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said a recent string of mass shootings in the U.S. served “as a tragic reminder of the rising toll of gun violence across this country.”
On Saturday, 10 people were killed and three others wounded in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that authorities said was motivated by racism.
The following day, one person was killed and five other people were injured in a shooting as Asian churchgoers gathered at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods in Southern California.
The two shootings, along with a number of others that have unfolded in recent days, have sparked fresh alarm over gun violence and hate crimes in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Biden said he would not give up on efforts to curb gun violence, with the president having vowed to work toward an end to the “gun violence epidemic” in the U.S. as part of his 2020 campaign. However, he said: “I’ve got to convince the Congress.”
“Part of what the country has to do is look in the mirror, that’s the reality,” he said, according to Reuters, as he departed from Buffalo after meeting with relatives of those killed or hurt in Saturday’s shooting. “We have a problem with domestic terrorism. It’s real,” he said.