Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to sign a bill on Thursday that would give the state more oversight over Illinois gun dealers, after Democrats kept the paperwork off former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk in order to avoid a veto during his administration’s final days, according to a state lawmaker.
The proposal would require firearm 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 is set to sign it into law at Young Elementary School on Thursday morning, according to Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, the proposal’s sponsor. Lawmakers approved it last year in the wake of the killing of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer and the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“This is a commonsense piece of legislation, so when I introduced it a decade and a half ago, I thought we would be celebrating this day much sooner,” Harmon said. “But important causes are worth fighting for, and I am proud to stand with the countless advocates and supporters who have stuck with us for all these years.”
A Pritzker spokeswoman declined to comment.
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. On Wednesday, Democrats sent it to Pritzker, and he’s scheduled to sign it Thursday.
In his inaugural speech on Monday, Pritzker hinted that a gun control push would be coming from his administration.
“We allow schools, and movie theaters, hospitals, neighborhoods to become battlefields — legally accessible by the weapons of war,” he said. “Our abdication of responsibility must end.”
Under the proposal, 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.
Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson has said “that bill is designed to run small firearms dealers out of business.”
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January 16, 2019 at 04:39PM