Illinois lawmakers recognize that the flow of illegal guns to criminals is not being handled, and this week the Illinois Gun Trafficking Task Force held its first meeting. They heard for an hour from St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
We're glad to see him and the state involved with this issue, but we hope they figure out the proper numbers to examine for this equation.
The easy out would be increasing prison sentences so prosecutors can scare defendants into cooperating. The usual government fix would be to spend more money on police, probation and parole officers. The tougher, but we think potentially more effective solution, would be to invest in forensic accountants and investigators, and likely at the federal level.
The federal ATF says only about 10 to 15 percent of the guns used in crimes are stolen. The bulk are purchased.
Source No. 1 for a criminal in need of a gun is to get a person who is legally entitled to buy a gun to purchase one for them -- a straw buyer. Source No. 2 is a corrupt gun dealer who is legally licensed.
Simply relying on a criminal to "give up" his gun source seems to be a difficult trail to follow regardless of the prison time. Would you snitch on an outlaw you knew had a trunk full of firearms?
Boosting the folks who can follow the paper trail from street crime back to the gun profiteers might be a better investment that leaves our Second Amendment rights intact and doesn't additionally overflow our prisons with more young men.