Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is seen after signing the bill banning "ghost guns" during a ceremony at St. Sabina Church's gymnasium in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Chicago Police Department/Twitter/UPI
May 19 (UPI) -- Illinois on Wednesday became the first state in the Midwest to enact a ban on ghost guns -- those that are manufactured privately and without serial numbers, which authorities are seeing more often in crimes.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law prohibiting the sale and possession of ghost guns, which are often sold as a set of parts to be assembled at home.
Ghost gun opponents have argued that the weapons allow owners to circumvent background checks and cannot be traced by conventional means.
"The people creating, selling and purchasing these firearms know that they're working to circumvent common-sense gun laws that ensure guns stay out of the hands of traffickers, abusers, and convicted criminals," Pritzker said in a statement after signing the law.
"We are seeing these unseralized guns being built in basements by those who should never have had access to such dangerous weapons and then used to commit heinous crimes, and it must be stopped to keep Illinoisans safe."
A "ghost gun kit" is seen during an event at the White House on April 11, when President Joe Biden
announced federal actions to fight gun crime. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who supported the bill, said ghost guns are being found more often at crime scenes in the nation's third-largest city and they have been difficult for investigators to resolve. Chicago in recent years has seen a spike in gun violence.
"This is a crisis moment for us around violence in general, but also around the proliferation of these ghost guns," Lightfoot said according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Folks, we gotta wake up. The gun manufacturers are getting rich while we are burying boys and girls and elders all over this country without any consequences for the people who are part and parcel of the problem. And that's also the gun manufacturers."
The bill was passed in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association, which urged its members last month to contact Pritzker and ask him to reject the law.
"[The ban] essentially ends the centuries-old practice of individuals building lawful firearms for personal use," the NRA's Institute of Legislative Action said in a statement.
"This only harasses and inconveniences law-abiding hobbyists who like to build their own firearms. It is already illegal under state and federal law for prohibited persons, such as felons, to possess any firearms, whether commercially made or home built."
A month ago, President Joe Biden announced new federal measures to fight the proliferation of ghost guns and called on states to prohibit sales and possession of the controversial weapons.