Illinois House Passes Ban on Bump Stocks, Licensing Requirements for Dealers

The Illinois House passed bills banning bump stock devices and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state Wednesday amid a flurry of votes on gun reform. 

By a vote of 83-31, the House voted to ban the sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of the controversial devices, which were used in a Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 people dead and nearly 600 wounded.

The House has also voted to raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21 in a much closer vote, with a 64-51 majority supporting the legislation.

Senate Bill 1657, approved by that body last April, was also approved by the House. The bill will require anyone in the business of selling, leasing, or transferring firearm ownership to be licensed with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. 

The bill also requires training for gun dealers and their employees to know how to conduct background checks and how to stop straw purchases. 

The act exempts stores where firearm sales make up less than 20 percent of all sales, a provision that critics decried as being fundamentally unfair to small businesses during debate on the House floor. 

The legislation will now head to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner for approval. 

HB-1468 also passed the House, making it illegal to sell or deliver an assault weapon without at least a 72-hour cooling off period. The bill passed with a 79-37 vote in the chamber. 

Several more bills are being debated in the House as prominent Chicago religious leaders arrived in Springfield to show their support for the legislation.

Cardinal Blase Cupich urged Illinois lawmakers during a press conference to adopt restrictions on assault weapons and other curbs on firearms after a Florida high school massacre and the fatal shooting of a police officer two weeks ago.

"The youth of our nation are shaming the adult world into action," Cardinal Cupich said, pointing to teen-aged activists who have protested for tougher rules on firearms after 17 students were killed Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida.

Father Michael Pfleger from St. Sabina Church boarded a bus to Springfield with a group of supporters, all looking to throw their support behind new bills reforming gun laws across the state.

There are several bills under consideration in Springfield on that topic, one of them written and named in honor of slain Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was fatally shot in a stairwell at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Feb.13. Shomari Legghette, the suspect charged in his death, is a convicted felon who police said was wearing body armor and used a semi-automatic weapon with a 30-round clip in the shooting.

House Bill 1469, known as the "Commander Paul Bauer Act," would prohibit the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines greater than 10 rounds, with exemptions for members of law enforcement and the military.

Sale, purchase, transfer or possession would be a Class 3 penalty, and a subsequent offense a Class 2.

The measure would also make possession of body armor a misdemeanor for first offense, Class 4 felony for second, and a penalty enhancement for committing a crime while wearing armor.

HB 1469 was introduced in committee Tuesday, with Supt. Eddie Johnson delivering testimony in support of the measure, saying it's "not perfect" but would be a step in the right direction.

"Now while we can't bring Cmdr. Bauer back, we owe it to his family and friends to carry on his legacy by emulating what he did in life and that's simply keeping the people that we serve safe," Johnson said in his testimony.

"We have an obligation to the citizens that we serve to help keep them safe," Johnson elaborated at a news conference. "And you know, it's just time that we stop talking about this stuff and do something about it." 

Johnson's testimony was part of a back-and-forth exchange on the legislation, with some, including lawmakers, raising concerns about retired officers who have body armor or extended magazines being punished under the new bill.

"There are a lot of other levels of law enforcement that are not addressed in this bill," Republican state Rep. Terri Bryant, of Murphysboro, said in the committee meeting, adding, "I do think this is rushed, I'm not going to support this bill."

*Correction: the House bill only bans sales of assault weapons and accessories to those under the age of 21, not all guns. 

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