CHICAGO — Some 3,302 guns were reported lost or stolen in Illinois last year, a new study says, though the report's authors admit that the number is probably an undercount.
The federal report, ordered by the Obama administration following the Newtown, Conn. school massacre last December, put the number of guns lost or stolen nationally at 190,000.
The report by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives cautioned that because reporting by law enforcement is voluntary, not mandatory, "the statistics in this report likely reveal only a fraction of the problem."
Even where state and local law enforcement are consistently reporting statistics, many states do not require private citizens to report the loss or theft of a firearm to local law enforcement in the first place, the authors say.
"As such, many lost and stolen firearms go entirely unreported," the report says.
Of the 3,302 guns reported lost or stolen in Illinois, 370 went missing from federally licensed gun dealers.
Lost and stolen firearms "pose a substantial threat to public safety and to law enforcement," the authors say.
"Those [who] steal firearms commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes, and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms, including a market for those who are prohibited by law from possessing a gun."
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, of which Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a member, is pushing for a national mandatory reporting law for gun owners.
In Chicago, gun owners are required to report the loss, theft or destruction of their gun. Penalties for a first violation include up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
In the federal report, Texas had the most lost or stolen guns in the nation, with 18,874 arms that went missing.