Illinois Lawmakers Revisit Gun Legislation

Advocates for gun control have renewed their push to require Illinois firearm stores to get state licenses, saying federal regulations don't go far enough to ensure sales are handled properly.

The state Senate last year advanced legislation to license gun dealers, but it stalled in the House due to opposition from gun rights groups, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The groups argued that licensing would increase the price of purchasing a firearm by as much as $300. To calm those fears, Democrats in the Senate advanced companion legislation on Wednesday to limit the cost of licensing fees to $1,000 for a five-year period.

Lawmakers are revisiting the measure in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed and others were wounded.

Some lawmakers are also calling for an outright ban on semi-automatic rifles to try to prevent mass shootings, an effort that has repeatedly failed in Illinois.

But supporters of the licensing bill have said the more widespread crisis is handgun violence that's permeated communities in Chicago.

"We react, as we should, when there is a horrific mass shooting, but every day in my district and across the Chicagoland area, young people are dying from gun violence," said sponsoring state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. "I would like to do something to try to stop that."

Opponents are arguing that those who sell guns are already licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which requires background checks.

Todd Vandermyde is a former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association who now represents a group of gun dealers called the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois. He said the state measure could prove to be expensive for small businesses.

"We already have a federal licensing standard and we think it works reasonably well," Vandermyde said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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