EDITORIAL: All 31 ways you can fight gun violence

SHARE EDITORIAL: All 31 ways you can fight gun violence

31 bullets is a campaign of the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board that identifies 31 specific actions Illinoisians can take to curb gun violence locally and nationwide.| Illustrations: Emmanuel Polanco, colagene.com

One month ago, we launched a campaign, “31 bullets,” to present 31 ways that you can help curb gun violence in America. Each day for 31 days, we posted a new “bullet.”

Now today, we are listing all 31 bullets, developed in partnership with the communications firm of Ogilvy & Mather. We urge you to consider them. Better yet, we urge you to take action.


Bullet 1 of 31

Guns in Classrooms

After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, President Trump proposed arming teachers with guns as a solution to ending gun violence in schools. We believe this is not only an impractical solution, but a risky one. Instead, we must help our educators recognize the warning signs of potential perpetrators and provide them with the tools for helping those students. Sign the Sandy Hook Promise petition to keep guns out of our kids’ schools.

Bullet 2 of 31

Child Lock Requirements

1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of unintentional gun injuries, intentional shootings, and suicides.

Contact your congresswoman or congressman, as well as your state elected leaders, to promote child-access prevention laws and require firearms to be stored with a locking device in place.

Bullet 3 of 31

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry legislation (H.R. 38) would allow armed individuals, crossing state lines, to abide only by their home state’s concealed carry laws. This would force states with stringent standards, such as Illinois, to recognize other, sometimes laxer, standards.

Tweet your senator to Vote NO on #hr38

Bullet 4 of 31

Gun Silencers Measure

Gun silencers put law enforcement and the public at grave risk. The deregulation of these devices would only increase that risk by providing greater accessibility to criminals. Contact your congressman or congresswoman to remove the gun silencer provision from the SHARE Act.


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Bullet 5 of 31

Universal Background Checks

Though more than 90 percent of the American public supports background checks for all gun sales, a loophole in federal gun laws exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before selling a firearm.

Bullet 6 of 31

The Power of the NRA

The National Rifle Association is the single biggest player in shaping gun laws in America. The group’s influence results in lax laws and minimal regulation of guns.

Text “NRA” to 50409, a service operated by Resistbot, to learn how much money the NRA has spent in funding, both for and against, your current U.S. representatives and senators.

Bullet 7 of 31

Open Carry

The presence of guns in public can quickly escalate everyday conflicts into deadly altercations. Illinois doesn’t allow the open carry of guns, but 45 states do. Urge businesses to ban open carry of guns on their property.

Sign Everytown’s “Groceries, Not Guns” petition to prohibit people from openly carrying guns in Kroger stores, the nation’s largest grocery chain.

Bullet 8 of 31


Gun owner licenses usually are issued or renewed only after the applicant has undergone a background check, completed a gun safety training course, and passed tests on how to safely load, fire and store a gun. Licensing laws are a simple, yet effective way to ensure guns are purchased and used by responsible Americans. Illinois has such a law, but the federal government — and many states — do not.

Contact your representative about requiring licenses for purchasing of all arms.

Bullet 9 of 31

Gun Registration

Firearm registration laws ensure gun owner accountability, helping law enforcement officers solve crimes and disarm criminals. Illinois requires gun owners to have FOID cards, but Illinoisans don’t have to register their guns. Despite the benefit of registration laws, few states have them — and some prohibit such laws outright.

Contact your representatives to require registration for all firearms prior to taking possession.

Bullet 10 of 31

Bulk Gun Purchases

Laws that limit the number of guns a person can buy within a certain time frame reduce the risk of guns entering the secondary market. Monitoring bulk gun purchases is an easy way to reduce gun trafficking and violence. The Illinois Legislature has repeatedly failed to impose limits.

Contact your representatives and tell them that you are in favor of limiting how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Bullet 11 of 31

Gun Violence Protective Orders

Gun violence protective order laws can prevent gun tragedies before they occur. They allow family members and law enforcement officers to request removal of a person’s firearms if he or she poses an imminent danger to self or others. A bill to do that is pending in the Illinois Legislature.

Contact your Illinois representatives and tell them to support Illinois HR 2354, or contact your own state representatives to support gun violence restraining order (GVRO) legislation.

Bullet 12 of 31

Safe Storage

The risk of unintentional shootings and gun suicides increases when guns are not stored properly. Child access prevention laws hold gun owners accountable for the secure storage of firearms, helping to keep firearms from falling into young hands.

Contact your representative and tell them that safe storage laws save lives

Bullet 13 of 31

Bad Apple Gun Dealers

90 percent of guns used in criminal acts can be traced to just 5 percent of gun dealers. These so-called ”Bad Apple” dealers enable criminals to circumvent gun laws created to keep firearms out of dangerous hands, putting communities at risk for violence. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently vetoed legislation that would address Bad Apple dealers by requiring state licensing of gun shops.

Tell Rauner to sign revised legislation to require the state certification of gun dealers.

Bullet 14 of 31

Trigger Cranks

A “trigger crank” attaches to the trigger guard of a semi-automatic rifle, increasing firepower and the likelihood of fatalities in acts of terrorism. Illinois legislation is pending that would ban trigger cranks and bump stocks.

Contact your state and congressional representatives to make trigger cranks illegal.

Bullet 15 of 31

Gun Violence Research

Lobbying by the NRA blocked the Centers for Disease Control from conducting gun violence research for more than 20 years. Legislation passed in March makes it clear the CDC has the authority to study gun violence and potential solutions, but funding is woefully inadequate.

Bullet 16 of 31

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to end in death than assaults with other weapons. Illinois has a strong law to deter domestic violence, but there is no strong federal law.

Contact your U.S. representative and tell them to cosponsor the Protect Domestic Violence and Stalking Act of 2017 (S. 1539), which would expand protections for victims.

Bullet 17 of 31

Mental Illness

State and federal laws designed to keep guns from emotionally disturbed people have loopholes. More extensive background checks can keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

President Donald Trump signed a law blocking the Social Security Administration from giving the names of people with relevant mental illnesses to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Contact your U.S. representatives about improving this kind of information sharing.

Bullet 18 of 31

Straw Purchases

When a gun buyer gets somebody else to fill out his or her paperwork, that’s called a “straw purchase.” This can put guns in the hands of people who are legally prohibited from owning them. Police say penalties for violating Illinois’ “lost and stolen” law, which helps address straw purchases, are too weak.

Contact Gov. Bruce Rauner and your state representatives to demand tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons.

Bullet 19 of 31

Gun Sales by Private Owners

According to an undercover investigation by the City of New York, 62 percent of private online firearm sellers agreed to sell a firearm to a buyer even after the buyer had told the seller that he or she probably could not pass a background check.

In Illinois, buyers in all sales — including private sales — must show a verified FOID card, something all states should do. Tell your U.S. representative that you want them to support banning gun sales by private owners.

Bullet 20 of 31

Terrorist Watch List

The terrorist watch list is used by the U.S. government to monitor potentially violent individuals and groups. Those on the list are blocked from actions that could put others at risk, such as air travel — yet they are still not prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.

Contact your U.S. representative and tell them to introduce legislation that prevents people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.

Bullet 21 of 31

Age Requirements

In the U.S., we commonly set age restrictions for activities such as voting, driving and drinking alcohol. Data shows that young adults account for a disproportionate number of gun homicides and suicides. In Illinois, buyers of handguns must be 21. A bill to raise the age to 21 for assault weapons is pending in the Legislature.

Contact your state and U.S. representatives about raising the minimum age to 21 for all gun purchases.

Bullet 22 of 31

Smart Guns

“Smart guns” save lives by preventing anyone but the authorized user to pull the trigger. They use key-like items or biometric technology.

Contact your U.S. representative to support personalized firearm technology requirements for all guns.

Bullet 23 of 31

Gun Reform Groups

Volunteers nationwide are making their voices heard on gun safety. Join a local gun-reform group to help fight gun violence in your community.

Bullet 24 of 31

Sales at Gun Shows

Gun buyers in many states outside Illinois can avoid required background checks by seeking out unlicensed sellers at gun shows. This allows anyone to obtain a firearm with little to no oversight.

Contact your U.S. representative to get rid of these gun-show loopholes by requiring these unlicensed sellers to conduct the same instant background checks as licensed dealers.

Bullet 25 of 31

Mandatory Waiting Periods

Waiting periods for gun purchases allow time for thorough background checks. On May 14, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner used an amendatory veto to slow legislation requiring a 72-hour waiting period to buy an assault weapon.

Tell your state and U.S. representatives that you support commonsense gun laws such as waiting periods.

Bullet 26 of 31

Gun Safety Organizations

Gun safety organizations play powerful roles in reforming our gun laws. Get to know them. They could use your financial and volunteer support.

Donate to gun safety organizations that are enacting tangible change through policy.

Bullet 27 of 31

Ammunition Regulation

A gun is only as dangerous as the bullet it shoots, yet ammunition sales are not subject to the same federal regulations as firearms. In most states, including Illinois, ammunition can be bought in person or online without oversight.

Urge your U.S. representatives and state legislators to support background checks of people buying or transferring ammunition.

Bullet 28 of 31

Large Capacity Magazines

Large capacity ammunition magazine guns allow shooters to fire at mass numbers of people without reloading, simultaneously minimizing the chance of victims finding refuge and time for law enforcement to intervene. Federal legislation that would ban large capacity magazines has stalled.

Contact your U.S. representatives about banning distribution of large capacity magazines.

Bullet 29 of 31


The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed in 2005, rendered the gun industry immune from nearly all lawsuits, leaving the families of gun violence victims without an avenue for justice.

Contact your U.S. representatives about gun industry immunity laws.

Bullet 30 of 31


So far this year, there have already been 111 mass shootings, and 23 school shootings. In emergency situations, blood is an urgent need. To find the nearest place where you can donate blood, visit RedCross.org and type in your ZIP code.

Bullet 31 of 31

Design Safety Standards

Unlike every other consumer product produced in the U.S., firearms and ammunition are exempted from design safety standards, resulting in unintentional shootings. In March, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly introduced legislation to weaken the exemption by allowing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue rules for firearms and ammunition.

Contact your representatives to support this bill and to urge more rigorous safety standards.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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