A resolution in support of federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales was approved by the village board 5-0, with two trustees absent, on June 15, 2015. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, their action is certainly timely:
WHEREAS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is an effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals, and since its inception, the background check system has blocked over two million gun sales to people who were prohibited from possessing guns; and
WHEREAS, despite this success, the system is undermined by legal loopholes and missing records that enable too many dangerous individuals to obtain weapons they later use to commit crimes; and
WHEREAS, the illegal trafficking of guns is often connected with illegal drug patterns ravaging our communities; and
WHEREAS, in the United States, an estimated 40% of all gun transfers take place with no background check of the buyer, including sales online and at gun shows; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago and the Village of Oak Park, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to own and possess firearms, including handguns, and such right is applicable to state and local governments as well as to the federal government; and
WHEREAS, the Court held that such right is still subject to the government’s responsibility to regulate the ownership, possession and use of firearms, including handguns; and
WHEREAS, the need for gun regulation was thrust into the national spotlight on December 14, 2012, when a tragedy of unspeakable proportions occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut when 20 children and six adults were slaughtered by a person wielding an automatic, high capacity assault weapon; and
WHEREAS, after this tragedy, legislation was proposed in the United States Senate known as the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” (Senate Bill 649) which would make universal background checks a precondition for the sale of all firearms, including those sold at gun shows and online; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 649 did not pass because only 54 senators voted in favor of the bill and 60 votes were required to make the bill filibuster proof; and
WHEREAS, while universal background check legislation continues to be one of the many victims of congressional gridlock, gun violence in the City of Chicago continues unabated with the almost daily loss of life; and
WHEREAS, the Chicago Tribune reported that over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend, 12 people were killed and 44 were wounded due to gun violence in the City of Chicago; and
WHEREAS, it is estimated that state and federal agencies have failed to report hundreds of thousands of records of persons with dangerous mental illness into the NICS database, and 12 states have each submitted fewer than one hundred (100) mental health records; and
WHEREAS, on average, over 80 Americans are killed with guns on a daily basis and too many of those persons killed are the victims of crimes committed by individuals who are barred from purchasing or possessing guns under federal law; and
WHEREAS, evidence shows that background checks save lives, as evidenced by the fact that in 16 states that already require background checks for unlicensed handgun sales, gun trafficking is 48% lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all gun sales; the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38% lower than in other states; and the firearm suicide rate was 49% lower than in other states; and
WHEREAS, in a July 3, 2014 poll conducted by the leading research institution, Quinnipiac University, 92% of voters, including 92% of gun owners, supported requiring background checks for all gun buyers; and
WHEREAS, at the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election, an advisory referendum calling for federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases was adopted by 92.4% of the 19,530 voters of Oak Park who voted at that election; and
WHEREAS, more than 50 national organizations support requiring a background check for all gun sales, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the International Associations of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park calls for federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales be adopted as soon as possible.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park, Illinois, in the exercise of their home rule powers, as follows:
Section 1. Recitals Incorporated. The recitals set forth above are incorporated herein as though fully set forth.
Section 2. Support for Federal Legislation Requiring Universal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. The Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park support federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales and which would also increase the reporting of mental health and other relevant records into the NICS database.
Section 3. Adoption of Federal Legislation. The Board of Trustees urges all State and Federal legislators representing the citizens of the Village of Oak Park to do all within their power to cause federal legislation requiring universal background checks to be enacted as soon as possible.
Section 4. Village Manager to Provide Resolution to State and Federal Legislators. The Village Manager shall forward copies of this Resolution to all State and Federal legislators representing the citizens of the Village of Oak Park asking each to provide the Village of Oak Park a written response to this Resolution.