Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law banning so-called ghost guns on Wednesday, making the "Land of Lincoln" the first state in the Midwest to pass such a measure.

The law requires ghost guns, self-assembled firearms from gun kits and 3D printers, to be marked with serial numbers so they can be traced by law enforcement.


“We are seeing these unserialized 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," Pritzker, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Pritzker signed the law at a ceremony with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has been ramping up efforts to curb raging crime in her city. Under the law, owners of gun kits have to get them stamped with serial numbers within 180 days of the measure taking effect, per the Chicago Sun-Times.

Authorities will likely encounter obstacles in enforcing the law due to the nature of ghost guns being untraceable. People caught with a ghost gun will face a class A misdemeanor on the first violation and a class 3 felony on the second, according to the outlet. Illinois state police analyzed 62 ghost guns in 2020 and 180 in 2021 and have already confiscated roughly 164 ghost guns this year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Nationally, ghost guns comprise a small percentage of illegal firearms. For comparison, Chicago police alone confiscated 5,352 illegal firearms in the first half of 2021, compared to the 180 "ghost guns" seized throughout the state all year, according to NBC 5.

Federal law requires firearms manufactured after 1968 to have a serial number so that law enforcement can track where the weapons originated.


Ghost guns have gained national attention due to concerns about the untraceable weapons falling into the hands of violent criminals. The Biden administration has taken aim at the untraceable weapons, ordering the Justice Department to review the situation last year and announcing new restrictions last month that require purchasers of ghost guns to submit to background checks as they would for standard gun purchases.

Illinois has wrestled with gun violence, particularly in its most populous city of Chicago. Over the weekend, a 16-year-old was killed at Millennium Park, prompting the mayor to tighten the city's curfew for teenagers. Last year was the most violent year on record for the city in a quarter-century, with a staggering 797 homicides and 3,561 shooting incidents, according to the Chicago Police Department.