Illinois Legislature Making New Effort to Pass a Gun Dealer Bill

Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday revived efforts to pass gun-dealer licensing legislation after a veto by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner stymied a previous effort.

The new rules would make it illegal for retailers to sell guns without being certified by the state. The stores must first be licensed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Then they would have to submit a copy of that license to the Illinois State Police, along with an affidavit declaring it remains valid.

A Senate panel advanced the bill by an 8-3 vote.

The bill's sponsor, Oak Park Democratic Sen. Don Harmon, said it accommodates concerns of Republicans and gun dealers by setting up a more simple regulatory structure while still keeping with the spirit of the initial legislation.

"We really eliminated the red tape," Harmon said. "If you have a federal firearm license to sell guns in Illinois, you submit that to the state police along with an affidavit that this is in fact your license and it's still valid and the state issues you a certification."

Rauner said Tuesday he had yet to review the updated proposal, but remains opposed to increasing costs on small businesses.

"I do not believe that attacking small business owners — putting red tape on small business owners in Illinois — is going to improve public safety in Illinois," he said.

The vetoed bill would have required gun dealers to register for a five-year license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The effort was opposed by Republicans and pro-gun groups, who deemed it overly burdensome, duplicative and difficult to comply with. Other opponents pointed to the legislation's exemption of big-box stores.

Among the new bill's provisions is the requirement that shop owners install surveillance equipment, maintain an electronic inventory, establish anti-theft measures and provide annual training to employees.

A three-year certification would cost retailers a maximum of $1,500, and the regulations would apply to small businesses as well as big-box retailers, which were previously exempted. Sellers without a retail location would be charged $300 every three years. The legislation also would create new penalties for people who later sell their guns privately but do not maintain proper records.

Todd Vandermyde of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois contends the measure could turn otherwise-law-abiding citizens into criminals.

"Putting a Class 4 felony on a paperwork violation seems a little more than onerous," Vandermyde said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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