The Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing bill just advanced out of an Illinois House committee on a 7-6 vote. It now goes to the House floor.
The committee hearing room turned into a veritable zoo this morning as a who’s who of gun rights supporters poured into the room. A number of dealers showed up. So too did Springfield’s Dennis Reese and Rock River’s Chuck Larson. The NRA-ILA had people there, and so too did the Illinois State Rifle Association. Yours truly found a seat on behalf of Guns Save Life. Illinois Carry also came. We all stood shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to the bill.
Who was absent? Jay Keller and the now apparently memberless Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association.
Supporters of this latest scheme to restrict Illinoisans’ gun rights also turned out, many clad in colored t-shirts. The House sponsor Kathleen Willis came over just before the start of the hearing to thank them for coming. I, dressed in a suit, didn’t merit so much as a nod. Go figure.
The bill, SB-1657, gives a virtual blank check to state government to impose all manner of regulations on Prairie State gun dealers. In order to make it revenue neutral, if signed into law, the state dealer license fee would be set at $5,000 per dealer (assuming only a third of regulated dealers quit). If two-thirds throw in the towel, that number would climb to $10,000.
For non-dealers, the law would ration everyday folks to nine firearm transfers per year. It would also enact universal background checks as it bans private gun sales between non-dealers. All firearm transfers would have to be completed by a dealer.
SB-1657 would probably have died in the Illinois Senate had the Illinois Firearm Manufacturer’s Association not traded their opposition of the bill in exchange for a carve-out for existing manufacturers. Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms founded and funded IFMA, which acted as their trade association/lobbying group at the Illinois capital.
The owners of both companies claim they had no knowledge of the exemption their IFMA lobbyist Jay Keller negotiated for them. They also claimed they had no idea of the tens of thousands of dollars donated to anti-gun Democrats either. This despite Springfield Armory’s owner Dennis Reese serving as President of IFMA and Rock River’s owner Chuck Larson serving as Treasurer.
Both companies have been lobbying vigorously to defeat this bill now that the whole firearm world is watching. Their efforts failed to stop the bill from getting through the committee. In fairness, they could have parted the Red Sea and this bill would still have made it to the House floor. There are at least seven national gun control groups working in some capacity in Springfield now (in addition to our own local orgs). Anyone with a room temperature IQ knows gun control is dead in D.C., so they’ve come to push the cause of civilian disarmament.
Stay tuned to The Truth About Guns and we’ll keep you updated on the bill’s House floor progress. It promises to be a rhetorically bloody fight.