U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act, today, to help reduce firearm violence in Illinois and across the country. This legislation would prohibit unlicensed firearm ownership and the transfer of firearms without a valid firearms license, as well as direct the U.S. Attorney General to establish and maintain a federal record of sale system and conduct fingerprint-based nationwide criminal background checks — which could have prevented the gunman who killed five people in Aurora, IL in 2019 from acquiring the firearm he used in the shooting.
Rush first introduced this legislation in 2007 and subsequently reintroduced it in 2009, 2013, 2018, and 2019. This bill is named after Blair Holt, a Chicago Julian High School honor student who was gunned down protecting his friend when a gunman opened fire while they were riding home from school on a crowded public transit bus. This week marks the 15th anniversary of his death.
“Gun violence has needlessly claimed the lives of too many children, and I have repeatedly introduced this commonsense legislation to prevent more families’ lives being shattered by bullets,” Rep. Rush said. “Although we cannot prevent all deaths, we can eliminate unnecessary risks and give law enforcement and communities better tools to keep guns away from people who have no business using them. I thank Senator Duckworth for working with me to push this bill forward.”
“I don’t want my daughters to have to grow up in a country that won’t protect them from gun violence,” Sen. Duckworth said. “We owe it to the countless and growing number of gun violence victims to take action, which is why I’m proud to continue working with Congressman Rush on this common-sense solution to help prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. We will keep pushing until our nation’s schools, offices and public spaces are safe from gun violence.”
The Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act is modeled in part after the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) statute and would:
- Protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to unlicensed individuals.
- Make sure that owners of qualifying firearms are knowledgeable in the safe use, handling, and storage of those firearms.
- Restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, children, and other persons prohibited by federal law from receiving firearms.
- Require universal background checks for all purchases or transfers of firearms.
- Facilitate the tracing of qualifying firearms used in crime by federal and state law enforcement agencies.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an average of 321 people are shot with a firearm every day in the United States — 111 of whom die. The gunman who killed five individuals in 2019 at Aurora’s Henry Pratt Company was prohibited from having a firearm license because of a prior felony in Mississippi but was able to slip through the system and his application was accepted. This legislation would address this loophole by requiring individuals seeking a firearm license to submit their fingerprints along with their firearm license applications.