Alton, IL

State Senate Gun Dealer Bill Revised

Story by WBGZ Radio

The sponsor of a measure to require Illinois gun stores to register with the state said he’s tweaked his bill to get more support, but not everyone is pleased with the revisions.


State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, stood with members of both parties Tuesday to announce changes to the bill Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed earlier this year.


“We heard critics of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act that the General Assembly passed about too much bureaucracy, too much red tape,” Harmon said.


Rauner vetoed the Gun Dealer Licensing Act and Harmon didn’t have the necessary votes to override the veto. Harmon later refiled the bill and announced it would be modified.


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“So we’ve come back with a dramatically simplified structure without compromising results,” Harmon said Tuesday.


Harmon said the new measure will not require a state license, but rather a certification that will cost $1,500 every three years.


Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois Executive Director Todd Vandermyde said that’s expensive.


“This whole process has been about trying to run an industry out of business,” Vandermyde said. “I think that when you have some of these smaller guys potentially having a $1,500 license, that’s significant.”


Harmon said dealers with a retail establishment would pay no more than $1,500 while dealers without a retail establishment would pay $300 for three years.

Under Harmon's revised plan, the Illinois State Police – not the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – would certify the gun dealers.


Senate Bill 337, Senate Floor Amendment 3, also treats every gun store, regardless of size, the same. Critics of the previous measure said excluding big box stores was unfair to independent guns stores.


Harmon’s bill still has provisions for record keeping and video surveillance along with penalties for failing to maintain proper records.


SB337 also requires private sellers to maintain records or face criminal penalties if they don’t.

Harmon said his bill doesn’t infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.


“This is an effort to regulate, as the Second Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] mentions, regulate the trafficking and sale of guns and gun dealers, nothing more than that,” Harmon said.


The Second Amendment says “A well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”


Vandermyde said Harmon is missing the mark. “Well-regulated” meant well-trained to the constitution’s framers, he said.


“Not regulated from the standpoint that government puts such onerous requirements on you that you're out of business,” Vandermyde said. “[Harmon] likes to focus on the first half of the amendment. He completely ignores the second half which says ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ ”


Harmon’s bill has bipartisan support.


“As we talk about a comprehensive approach to making our communities safer in dealing with gun violence, there’s no doubt in my mind that having safer practices is a better way of preventing gun trafficking originating from gun dealers in Illinois needs to be a significant piece of that comprehensive approach,” said state Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst.


The measure could come up for a vote before the end of session May 31.


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