Gov. J.B. Pritzker Signs Law Requiring State Licensing Of Illinois Gun Dealers

By By Mike Riopell, Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday signed legislation to give the state more oversight over Illinois firearms dealers, appearing with anti-violence advocates at a West Side elementary school and saying he’ll push for further gun control measures.

The proposal Pritzker signed into law requires gun stores to get state licenses, a move that supporters contend could reduce gun violence because federal regulators are stretched too thin to adequately handle all the shops operating in Illinois.

Pritzker called it “a long-overdue step to do more to prevent gun violence, to make sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, to make sure that we license gun shops just like restaurants and other businesses, and deter straw purchases, so that we can prevent someone from buying a gun for someone who is not legally allowed to own a gun.”

Minutes before Pritzker signed the new law at Young Elementary School, the Illinois State Rifle Association threatened to challenge it in court.

The path to Thursday’s ceremonial bill signing was an unusual one, as Democratic lawmakers tried to avoid former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto.

Rauner vetoed a similar proposal in the spring, calling it “duplicative” because the federal government already licenses firearms retailers. He said adding another layer of oversight would be costly for businesses and “do little to improve public safety.”

Lawmakers approved a new version while Rauner was governor, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton held on to the paperwork to keep it off the Republican’s desk. Democrats sent it to Pritzker on Wednesday, and he signed it into law Thursday.

Under the new law, it would be illegal for retailers to sell guns without being certified by the state. To qualify, stores first must be licensed by the federal 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. Shop owners would have to install surveillance equipment, maintain an electronic inventory, establish anti-theft measures and require employees to undergo annual training.

A certification would cost retailers a maximum of $1,500, and the regulations would apply to small businesses as well as big-box retailers. Sellers without a retail location would be charged $300 for certification.

In a statement, Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said “nothing in this bill is going to enhance public safety in Illinois.”

“The only thing that is being accomplished here is the creation of a bureaucratic nightmare for gun dealers,” he said. “Rest assured, we will be challenging this new law in court.”

Lawmakers approved the law last year in the wake of the killing of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer and the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

While Illinois is the largest single source for guns later used in crimes in Chicago, weapons also make their way here by way of states such as Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin, according to a city of Chicago trace data report from 2017. Wisconsin ranked fourth on the list, with about 4 percent of Chicago’s crime guns sold at dealers in that state.

The handgun used to kill Bauer, for example, began its tragic path in December 2011 at a small shop in south-central Wisconsin.

In his inaugural speech Monday, Pritzker hinted that a gun control push would be coming from his administration.

This article provided by NewsEdge.