Sponsors call it a bipartisan measure to curb illegal gun trafficking. Gun stores say it is a move to drive them out of business. Either way, it’s back.
State Senator Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, saw his original gun dealer licensing act pass the legislature only to see it rejected two months ago by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner as “duplicative” of federal firearms licensing regulations. On Tuesday, buoyed by members of the GOP, Harmon saw a fresh attempt, SB 337, pass out of committee and head to the chamber’s floor for further consideration. Harmon says it addresses Rauner’s concerns with the scuttled bill.
“We took seriously concerns about the bureaucracy included in the Gun Dealer Licensing Act,” Harmon said. “This legislation provides much-needed oversight on gun purchases without creating a new bureaucracy.”
Whereas the first version would direct the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to draw up licensing guidelines for legal gun shops in the state, the new proposal would place a more streamlined responsibility in the hands of the Illinois State Police. It would mandate gun dealers create a safe storage plan for their firearm inventory both during buisness hours and when closed, institute new signage requirements and hold annual training for shop staff on legal requirements.
Additionally, the measure would require shops to make a copy of a gun buyer’s state firearms card and attach it to the sales paperwork, which would be open to inspection by local and state law enforcement.
Harmon’s latest drive also eliminates a carve-out for big box retailers such as Walmart that drew criticism that his original bill unfairly targeted small FFLs.
Moving past gun stores, it would also make it a Class A misdemeanor for private individuals who resell a gun who fail to keep a record including the name and address of the person they transferred ownership to. Subsequent violations would be a felony.
The new bill has at least some Republicans playing ball. “I’m pleased with the common ground and compromise we achieved on this issue, and I can honestly say that of the legislation proposed, I believe this measure will not impede an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights,” said state Sen. John Curran, R-Downers Grove, who did not vote on the bill Rauner vetoed. “The legislation announced today simply answers the call from our constituents to help ensure gun dealers and businesses are only selling firearms to those licensed to carry them.”
Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, the Illinois State Rifle Association and other industry and Second Amendment groups paint SB 337 as a rehash of the bill that Rauner already vetoed and are urging members to contact their lawmakers. The National Rifle Association said in an alert that the bill was designed to, “close as many federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) as possible.”
Some 2,800 witness slips have been submitted on the bill, split evenly between those who oppose and those who support the measure.