The Illinois gun dealer licensing law currently sitting on the Governor’s desk makes a mockery of the Land of Lincoln residents’ gun rights. SB-1657 threatens the lawful commerce of a lawful product by empowering the state to impose conditions on that license. Mentioned in the bill . . .
Licensing fees, a minimum number of hours of experience selling firearms (100) for the licensee, a qualifying examination for licensees, training and “continuing education” for both licensees and employees and “appropriate security measures” — including video of all transactions and firearms storage areas.
Under the scheme . . .
A licensee shall post in a conspicuous position on the premises where the licensee conducts business a sign that contains the following warning in block letters not less than one inch in height:
With few exceptions, it is unlawful for you to:
(1) store or leave an unsecured firearm in a place where a child can obtain access to it,
(2) sell or transfer your firearm to someone else without receiving approval for the transfer from the Department of State Police, or
(3) fail to report the loss or theft of your firearm to local law enforcement within 72 hours.
Yes you read right: the bill eliminates private firearms transfers. According to its mandate, all firearms sales must go through a Federal Firearms Licensee. And if that wasn’t enough infringement, it limits Illinois citizens to nine firearms transfers per year.
Here’s who’d be in charge of all this (from the Bill’s synopsis):
Creates the Gun Dealer Licensing Board consisting of 5 members appointed by the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation to recommend policies, procedures, and rules relevant to the administration and enforcement of the Act . . .
Establishes qualifications for obtaining dealership licenses and for being employed as a dealership agent. Establishes penalties for violations of the Act. Provides for rulemaking, including emergency rulemaking.
In case you were wondering, the Bill stipulates that an emergency is defined as “the existence of any situation that any agency finds reasonably constitutes a threat to the public interest, safety, or welfare.”
Here’s something else special from the law: one of the five Licensing Board members must be “a representative of an advocacy group for public safety.” Despite the NRA’s record of training millions of people how to use a firearm safely and responsibly, I don’t think that’s what Democratic lawmakers have in mind.
Not to worry! “A member also shall disqualify himself or herself from any matter on which the member cannot act objectively.” Unfortunately, the State Licensing Board’s potential lack of objectivity wouldn’t be the firearms dealers’ only problem.
A municipality or county may impose additional requirements for the operation of gun dealers and dealerships beyond the requirements of this Act and consistent with the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, including local license requirements.
So the city and local authorities can add to dealer licensing requirements — an unconstitutional scheme in and of itself — as long as they respect the Constitution. Which apparently allows the city or municipality to ban gun stores from locating closer than 550 feet from “any school, pre-school or day-care facility.” Or more.
SB-1657 made it through the Illinois Senate the day before the 2017 NRA Convention thanks in part to Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms’ lobbying group trading opposition to the bill for a carve-out for the two companies (who rescinded their offer after it was exposed by TTAG and then campaigned against the bill). Yesterday, it passed through the House of Representatives.
The gun dealer licensing scheme puts Governor Rauner in a bind during a re-election year. Does he veto the bill, angering suburban Chicagoland voters scuppering his re-election chances? Or does he sign the bill angering a good portion of the Prairie State’s 2.25 million gun owners, killing his re-election chances?
The People of the Gun will lean hard on the governor to veto the measure. At the same time, gun control advocates will pull out all the stops to urge Rauner to sign it, seeing this as a program that can spread to other states. Will advocates of firearms freedom and individual liberty repel this threat? We’ll know within the next 90 days.