Old Politicians and Old Press Releases Really Never Die

It is sometimes amazing what documents you can find that are still available on the Internet. I’m not talking about historical documents related to our country’s founding that might be found in the National Archives. Rather I came across this old press release from someone that the State of Illinois would rather forget – then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2005

Governor Blagojevich launches effort to fight gun trafficking
Governor sets up gun crime unit in State Police; New Gun Trafficking Unit will work with Indiana, Mississippi and federal agencies to stop flow of crime guns into Illinois

CHICAGO – In a new effort to stop the flow of illegal guns into Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced the creation of an elite gun trafficking police unit that will work with federal authorities and law enforcement agencies from two other states to detect and capture gunrunners and dealers.

“Most guns used in crimes come from out of state. The more we can stop the flow of illegal guns into Illinois, the less gun crime and gun violence we’ll see. That’s why we’re creating an elite gun crimes unit to reduce the flow of crime guns into the hands of criminals. We’re going to track illegal guns to their sources and crack down on the sale and distribution of illegal guns,” Governor Blagojevich said.

More crime guns flow into Illinois from Indiana and Mississippi than from any other state. According to recent data, 777 crime guns from Indiana and 532 crime guns from Mississippi were located in Illinois. Crime guns from these two states alone nearly equal the total number of crime guns from the next 10 states combined.

Nationwide, close to 90 percent of guns used in crimes are trafficked. In Chicago, for the past two years more than 75 percent of murders involved guns.

Trafficking is when a gun is passed from a legal buyer or seller, to a person or group who are not permitted to have a weapon. Trafficking also takes place when a gun is stolen, sold by a corrupt dealer to a criminal, sold to a legal buyer who gives it to a criminal, or inadvertently sold to a criminal. In Illinois, almost half of traced gun crimes were trafficked from another state.

“Illinois is flooded with a deadly tide of crime guns that come from states that have very lax gun laws. This initiative will have a greater impact on reducing Illinois crime than any other gun safety measure currently being proposed,” said Jim Kessler, Policy and Research Director for Americans for Gun Safety.

The gun-tracing unit will work with authorities in Indiana and Mississippi, coordinating information on purchases, allowing law enforcement to take action. The unit will also analyze federal data to detect trends and patterns and prevent criminal activity.

The unit will be led by a Master Sergeant and will include five new intelligence analysts to study crime gun data and help lead agents to gun traffickers. The state troopers assigned to this unit will be trained by the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

The Governor also sent a clear message to those who want to make guns more easily accessible. “Bills that would preempt the home rule and take away the power of cities to enact gun control laws, or that would make Illinois a conceal and carry state, or that would destroy records that will make it harder for law enforcement to trace gun crimes, are bills that would weaken our gun laws and increase crime. If any of these bills reach my desk, let me say it right now: they are dead on arrival.”

Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director George Phillips, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Division of the ATF Andrew L. Traver, and the leadership of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police as well as legislators and leaders from state and national gun control advocacy groups including Americans for Gun Safety, the Chicago Chapter of the National Brady Campaign and the Northern Suburban Chapter of the Million Mom March joined the Governor at the press conference.

Blago, as he has become know in new headlines, was impeached and convicted by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009. He was later tried on Federal corruption charges. Blagojevich was convicted on one count of lying to the FBI when a mistrial was declared on the remaining 23 charges as the jury couldn’t reach a decision. He will be retried on those charges in April 2011.

It is important to remember that Blagojevich always made gun control a central part of his political campaigns. Running for reelection in 2006, he pummeled his Republican opponent mercilessly on gun control especially her opposition to a new assault weapons (sic) ban.

I’m sure that is one news conference and one disgraced politician that Andrew Traver and those supporting his nomination to be the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives would sooner forget. The beauty (and the curse) of the Internet is that things are never really forgotten.


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