Illinois bill seeking to implement state gun ‘buyback’ program gets pushback

Guns Save Life Executive Director John Boch said the program won’t stop gun violence.

An Illinois state legislator introduced a measure that would create a firearm and firearm ammunition buyback program.

State Rep. Cyril Nichols, D-Chicago, is sponsoring House Bill 4681. Under the proposal, residents receive $100 for operable firearms they turn into Illinois State Police.

Guns Save Life Executive Director John Boch said the program won’t stop gun violence.

“These are older people. These are law-abiding people that are turning in unwanted stuff," Boch said when explaining the type of people he sees at gun buybacks around the state. "The people who don’t have gray hair, clearly don’t dress and act the role of a potential criminal among those people turning in guns. Clearly they're not getting guns from the criminal class. The criminal class won't be caught dead at these locations."

Boch said $100 is not the market rate when cities like Bloomington offer $500. He said legislators in Springfield should expect barrels full of junk.

Kelvin Coburn, an auditor by profession, said Illinois State Police has administrative and staffing issues that will prohibit them from processing the firearms safely. The proposed law states the ISP will manage firearms that residents turn in.

The Auditor General revealed in a 2022 inventory report there were 719 missing items from the ISP worth $1.5 million. In 2021, the inventory audit reported 1,413 missing items worth nearly $2.5 million. The audit found that ISP does not have a policy for identifying equipment considered subject to theft.

"No, they can’t handle this. They’re overwhelmed. Give the state police an opportunity to get staffed up. Go look at the audit report,” Coburn said.

Boch echoed Coburn and said ISP has a staffing issue.

"They’re trying to do more with fewer people there. That’s a bigger concern outside of the fact that they inadvertently misplaced computers and other expensive equipment … probably a few guns along the way," Boch said. "The bigger concern is, where are they going to get the manpower to do this."

A spokesperson with ISP said the agency does not comment on pending legislation.

Coburn said state legislators don’t respect or even understand their constituents.

"They don’t involve them [the constituents]. They think that, ‘Oh here’s a poor neighborhood and we want to get the guns off the streets. So bring me the guns and I will buy them back, even though I didn’t buy them.’ I think it’s condescending and it’s another bad idea that’s come out of Springfield,” Coburn said.

Coburn said the buyback program will not reduce crime.

The Center Square made attempts to contact Nichols' office for comment but didn’t receive a response.