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Archive → December 12th, 2017

The feds tried to take guns back from thousands of gun owners last year

The feds tried to take guns back from thousands of gun owners last year. Here’s why.

The feds tried to take guns back from thousands of gun owners last year. Here’s why.

The FBI issued more than 4,000 orders to retrieve weapons purchased by people who should not have passed background checks in 2016. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

FBI records show the bureau issued more than 4,000 requests to retrieve guns from people who should not have passed background checks.

How were they able to buy the guns?

The FBI’s background check system requires analysts to complete the checks within three days. If 72 hours passes and no background check is completed, the sale of the gun goes forward, regardless of the purchaser’s history.

So if the FBI later earns that someone bought a gun but actually has a criminal history, mental health issues or other disqualifying problems, ATF agents get the unenviable job of making house calls to take the guns back.

It’s easy to see how dangerous it could be for a federal agent to attempt to seize a weapon from someone who should never have been allowed to own it.

Why are so many background checks taking too long?

A record 27.5 million background check requests came across the desks of FBI analysts last year.

The issue of background check failures came to the forefront after Devin Kelley, who was allowed to purchase a rifle despite a violent history, used the gun in a massacre at a Texas church in November.

The Air Force didn’t transmit the record of Kelley’s domestic assault court-martial to the FBI, which allowed him to pass the background check.

How many retrieval attempts are successful?

The FBI said the ATF isn’t required to report back on the status of the retrieval efforts, so it’s unknown how many of the record 4,170 retrieval attempts in 2016 were successful.

However, a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general showed that 116 out of 125 examined transactions were successful between 2008 and 2014.

What can be done?

There are some who favor extending the 3-day background check time limit to prevent cases of the deadline passing without a proper screening.

Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said he supported the provision of more resources to the FBI to complete checks, rather than extending the time limit.

But former ATF official David Chipman believes the time limit is only as short as it is as a concession to the gun industry.

Source: Will County News

O’Hare express rail: Vision or mirage?

O’Hare express rail: Vision or mirage?

You have to admire Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pluck. The vision of a downtown to O’Hare express rail link has been a mirage for decades. His predecessor, Richard M. Daley, pushed the idea as far back as 2001, and revived it after riding a 267-mph bullet train in Shanghai in 2010 . The outcome? Zip. Daley’s downtown terminus for the project, a CTA superstation at Block 37, remains abandoned.

The current mayor is mounting his own push for downtown-to-O’Hare express rail, and chose Daley’s mothballed station to announce the initiative. “More than a century ago, Daniel Burnham encouraged Chicago to ‘make no little plans’ and today Chicagoans continue to make big and bold plans with an eye toward the future,” Emanuel told reporters.

We too like big, bold plans. But from the time Emanuel first dangled this notion in February, we’ve been skeptical. Why is this needed, especially if the CTA is planning upgrades along the existing Blue Line to O’Hare? How much faster would it move passengers? Would there be demand for a comparatively high-fare ride? What route would it take, and for how long would construction disrupt neighborhoods?

And, of course, how much would it cost, and how much would be shouldered by taxpayers?

The mayor’s doubling down, so we’ll play along. He envisions a line that would take riders from downtown to O’Hare in 20 minutes or less. Trains would run at least every 15 minutes for much of the day. Fares would cost less than a taxi or Uber ride. Chicago’s aviation chief, Ginger Evans, told the Sun-Times she believed business travelers would be willing to pay fares of $25 to $35, a price that would include baggage check at a downtown station, a seat reservation, on-board Wi-Fi and drinks.

The city envisions three potential routes: either above or below the existing Blue Line; along a freight rail right-of-way that begins at Clinton and Congress and runs through western suburbs before reaching O’Hare; and Metra’s North Central commuter line that goes from Union Station to just east of O’Hare before continuing on to Antioch. Possibilities for the downtown station include the shuttered Block 37 station, Union Station, and sites at Clinton/Congress and Canal/Clinton.

The mayor has addressed one of our biggest concerns — putting this on the backs of taxpayers. He says not a penny of taxpayer money will be spent on design, construction or operation. We’ll hold him to that. City projects touted as private-sector-paid endeavors often find a way to slip a hand into taxpayers’ pockets. We remember Daley’s pledge to Chicagoans in 2001 that they wouldn’t pay a dime for the ugly rebuild of Soldier Field. A decade later, taxpayers learned they would have to make up for a shortfall created when hotel tax revenue earmarked for the project proved insufficient. Emanuel huffed, “I don’t want the taxpayers of the city of Chicago to be treated as if they’re just an ATM machine.” Words to remember, Mayor.

Emanuel has issued a “Request for Qualifications” seeking enterprises that could design, build and operate the rail link. One billionaire innovator, Elon Musk, on Thursday tweeted that he’s all in. One of his companies, SpaceX, launched the first orbital rocket to safely land back on Earth, and has sent several cargo missions to the International Space Station. His electric vehicle startup, Tesla, tops Ford and GM in market capitalization. The vision for a downtown-to-O’Hare link that Musk touted earlier this year is just as ambitious. His idea is to bore a tunnel to carry minibus-like vehicles on electric-powered sleds, which would zip at speeds of 125 mph. A subterranean superhighway.

In the meantime, the CTA is moving forward with the five-year Blue Line revamp to upgrade stations and rebuild aging stretches that delay trains. A downtown-to-O’Hare trip that now takes as long as 45 minutes would take about 38 minutes with the revamp and still cost just $5. You won’t be able to get a Rob Roy on the Blue Line, though. You’ll still have your bags with you. And maybe you’ll be standing in a crowd.

Emanuel’s plan for classier service might be a good alternative, if: If the right route emerges. If the right builder/operator comes along. If the service proves popular enough to be self-sustaining. And if taxpayers aren’t the project’s ATM machine.

Mr. Mayor, may your vision be more than the last guy’s mirage.

Source: Will County News

Illinois is experiencing heavy losses of people and income to other states

The Land of Lincoln is experiencing heavy losses of people and income to other states, new IRS data reveal. Illinois lost more than 86,000 people and $4.75 billion in adjusted gross income to other states from 2015-2016.

Illinois’ problem with wealth flight isn’t just persisting, it’s getting worse. That’s the takeaway from new data released by the Internal Revenue Service on Nov. 30. In terms of both people and income, the Land of Lincoln saw a record-breaking exodus in the 2015 tax year (2015-2016).

Illinois saw a net loss of nearly 42,000 tax returns to other states on the year, representing a net loss of more than 86,100 people (measured in exemptions), according to the IRS. That’s an all-time high.

Illinois lost people on net to every neighboring state

And when people leave the state, they don’t just take their talent, drive and ingenuity. They take their wallets, too.

Illinois lost $4.75 billion in adjusted gross income, or AGI, on net to other states in tax year 2015. That’s also an all-time high. While residents saw $6.35 billion in adjusted gross income, or AGI, move into Illinois from other states, $11.10 billion moved out of Illinois to another state.

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It’s not retired snowbirds who are driving the flight from Illinois. Analysis of IRS data for previous years shows how millennials are in fact leading the Illinois exodus. Further, the most recent IRS data show Illinois lost income and people on net to every neighboring state. It’s not just the weather.

To where exactly are people walking?

The top 10 states to which Illinois lost people were: Florida (12,800 exemptions gained from Illinois on net), Texas (9,400), Indiana (8,200), California (7,600), Arizona (6,400), Wisconsin (6,000), Colorado (4,700), Georgia (4,200), Tennessee (3,600) and North Carolina (2,700).

top 10 states to which Illinois lost people

Top 10 states to which Illinois lost income

Since the 2011 temporary income tax hikes, the flight of wealth and people from Illinois has accelerated.

Illinois lost income on net to every neighboring state

This consistent, worsening trend is an indictment of the policy status quo in Illinois. A 2016 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll found Illinoisans cited taxes as the No. 1 reason for wanting to leave the state. And while Illinois’ temporary income tax hike partially sunset at the start of 2015, left to run wild was the largest tax Illinoisans pay: property taxesIllinoisans shoulder the heaviest property tax burden in the nation, according to a 2016 study from real-estate services company CoreLogic.

Yet for years, Springfield has rejected any substantial reforms to address the cost-drivers behind those property tax bills: the highest number of local governments in the nationskyrocketing local pension costs and an unfair bargaining regime that stacks the deck against taxpayers in negotiations, to name a few. Proposals for a hard property tax cap have been rebuffed as well.

Of course, taxes aren’t the only reason people are leaving. The state’s laggard economy, evidenced by legions of Illinoisans dropping out of the workforce altogether, is another likely culprit.

Illinois’ exodus of people and money is the state’s most pressing policy problem.

Until lawmakers get serious about addressing its causes, there’s little reason to think the trend will change.

Source: Will County News