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SPRINGFIELD - Gun owners could be held responsible for minors getting a hold of their guns under legislation approved by a House committee Wednesday.

The measure would make it illegal to have a gun around any minor who doesn't have a Firearm Owners Identification Card unless the gun has a trigger lock or is disassembled.

"It doesn't take away your right to own your weapon, use your weapon legally, etc., etc.," said state Rep. William Delgado, D-Chicago. "But it does protect the safety of children."

The proposal was among two pieces of legislation approved Wednesday that took aim at state gun laws. The other would create a state licensing system for gun dealers.

Both measures were heard in the House Human Services Committee, rather than in a committee that usually handles criminal matters.

"The deck was stacked against us even before we walked in the room," said Todd Vandermyde, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

Even with the friendlier venue, both measures barely won approval. They now head to the full House for further debate.

Current law only makes it illegal to have a gun in the house when someone under 14 uses it to cause death or bodily harm. But the new proposal would not require the minor to use the gun for the owner to be charged with a misdemeanor.

"This law would now cover the 15- or 16-year-old that brings guns to school but doesn't necessarily do anything with it n has it in his backpack," said state Rep. Joe Dunn, R-Naperville. "Now you go after the owner of that gun who left it out, who didn't take measures to secure it."

Under the proposal, a gun owner could face under one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines if a minor gets ahold of the firearm.

The other measure creates a state gun-dealer license, which would be monitored by the state police. It is intended to curb illegal gun dealing and would be stricter than the federal licensing system.

"This bill also would take into account pawnshops," said state Rep. Patricia Bellock, D-Chicago. "Currently, right now, you can pawn a gun at a pawn shop and if I don't come back and give you back your money for my gun you then in effect sell my gun, but you're not a licensed gun dealer."

The legislation is House Bill 4693 and 4694.


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