For the first time in years, an important piece of legislation to combat the flow of illegal guns in Illinois has a chance to make it through the state Legislature. We can do this, people.

The bill, which passed in the Illinois Senate last week with bipartisan support, would require gun dealers to be licensed by Illinois and would encourage business practices designed to discourage illegal gun trafficking.

The bill would give the state a tool to crack down on the small handful of gun shops that are known sources of large numbers of firearms that turn up on crime scenes. Gun dealers already are federally licensed, but rarely are they investigated by feds.

The bill also would require gun shops to train and educate their employees on how to properly do background checks and how to spot gun traffickers.

Illegal guns — and not, we stress, legal ones — are a scourge in Chicago. Last weekend, four people were killed and 17 were wounded by guns in the city. More than 1,000 people have been shot this year. In virtually every shooting, an illegally owned gun is the weapon.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES