Maybe it's the Newtown tragedy, maybe it's the re-election of President Obama, but gun buyers abound in Illinois.
In December, gun dealers in Illinois ran 112,141 background checks on prospective buyers. By comparison, the December number was 69,260 in 2010 and 97,520 in 2011.
In the five days after the Newtown, Conn., shooting, 12,500 checks were conducted, or almost double the number in the same five-day period in 2011.
The increased volume makes it more important than ever that current rules are followed and that lllinois tries to ensure that the people buying the guns are law-abiding, mentally fit citizens.
Illinois' record on that hasn't been good in the past. A state audit found that the Illinois State Police often does not approve or deny firearms ownership applications in 30 days as the law requires. When systems don't operate as they should, that encourages people to skirt the system.
Of particular concern is Illinois' lax reporting of mental health problems. The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns said that Illinois has forwarded only a portion of the mental health records to the federal government to be included in a national database. In some cases that's because county court officials aren't forwarding mental health records to the state.
If Illinois is to be effective in keeping guns out of the wrong hands, it has to do a better job of collecting and forwarding mental health records.