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Gun buyback backfires: 10 missing guns
Libertarian Party Chairman files suit against Cook County Sheriff's Department.

January 24, 2001

Contact: Matt Beauchamp or Stephanie Sailor 

Click here for more information on the case, including a detailed history behind the lawsuit. 

Libertarian Party of Chicago chairman Matt Beauchamp named the Cook County Sheriff's Department in a suit filed in circuit court today. The suit seeks to obtain information on the whereabouts of guns purchased during Sheriff Sheahan's "Safe Streets, Safe Neighborhoods 2000" gun buyback project held in September 1999. The program, which cost taxpayers over $200,000, was designed to reduce crime by getting guns off the streets and into safe hands. Criminals were allowed to turn in their guns with no questions asked.

However, a number of those guns have apparently "vanished into thin air," says Beauchamp. According to information obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the Sheriff's Department turned the guns over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Cook County officials claimed that 10 of the guns were classified as antique by the BATF and placed in museums around the country. However, BATF disclosure agent Peter Chisholm disputed those facts. He claimed that BATF only traced the guns' serial numbers to check for stolen weapons. 

"It appears this program was a great way for criminals to get rid of evidence with no questions asked. The Sheriff even handed them crisp $50 bills for their trouble. I'm very curious to know what happened to these guns. Either Sheriff Sheahan has something to hide or he thinks he's above the law. Both prospects are unsettling to me," states Beauchamp. 

Beauchamp also charges that the department violated numerous federal and state firearms laws. Approximately one third of the purchased guns had their serial numbers removed or defaced and deputies neglected to keep proper records as required by Illinois law. The suit was filed after repeated requests for information were ignored or denied by the Sheriff's Department's FOIA agent, Illinois State's Attorney Jim Ryan. ###

Contact: Matt Beauchamp or Stephanie Sailor

Click here for more information on the case, including a detailed history behind the lawsuit.

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. C. S. LEWIS

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