Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today will sign sign a law requiring background checks for all buyers at gun shows, closing what police say is a wide-open avenue for gangs and other illegal purchasers to get firearms, the Chicago Tribune reports. In an action also supported by many law-enforcement officials, Blagojevich plans to veto a measure that would have required the Illinois State Police to clear out most records of background checks within 90 days of their creation. That measure would obliterate a database that police say helps them track the buying habits of gunrunners who supply gangs and other criminals with firearms.
Critics complain that the governor is being unfair by refusing to do away with the database, which they say police use to harass law-abiding gun owners. Only federally licensed firearm dealers must conduct criminal background checks. Police maintain that illegal buyers attend the gun shows and buy guns from unlicensed dealers, who aren’t required to call the state police hotline to check backgrounds when selling at the shows.