A measure that would likely result in the closure of many lawful gun shops is set for consideration today in the Illinois House Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 1657 would create onerous mandatory regulations, fees potentially in the thousands of dollars and excessive amounts of red tape for Prairie State firearm dealers. The proposal would essentially mandate state licensing for all Illinois firearms dealers, who are currently already required to be licensed at the federal level. Providing further evidence that this measure was intended to target your average gun store, the language carved out exemptions for big box stores and for small dealers who sell under 10 guns per year.
“While the purported intent of this legislation was to enhance ‘responsible business practices,’ this proposed legislation only proves that the intention is to close as many federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) as possible,” stated an NRA-ILA legislative update.
And NRA isn’t the only entity that sees punitive legislation in such a light. Two gun dealers in the state also believe the legislation is meant to raise money to battle budget shortfalls on the backs of lawful gun sellers.
“There is no aspect of this bill that will increase public safety in any way, shape or form,” Bert Irslinger Jr., who co-owns Second Amendment Sports in McHenry, told the Northwest Herald.
Along with the licensing scheme, the measure also would limit every private citizen to nine firearm transfers per year, with harsh penalties for more transfers.Bo Strom, CEO of On Target Range & Tactical Center in Crystal Lake, agrees.
“[The bill is] a duplication of things that already exist at the federal level,” Strom told the newspaper. “It’s the same old story—when criminals are the only people able to get guns, as opposed to the general populace, you’re less safe.
“Guns and gun ranges are an opportunity for people to participate safely in a sport that is enjoyed by a lot of people. Along with the licensing scheme, the measure also would limit every private citizen to nine firearm transfers per year, with harsh penalties for more transfers. And as Dan Eldridge, owner of Maxon Shooter's Supplies & Indoor Range in Des Plaines, wrote in a recent Chicago Tribune commentary, most operational requirements in SB 1657 would be determined by rules created by a five-member board, which would include a “public safety advocate” and an attorney.
“A careful reading of this vague legislation reveals that almost all of the standards, fees and penalties would be determined at a later date,” Eldgridge wrote. “There are no limits on new training requirements, security requirements, written exams, in-store inspections or any other potential regulations. No store would be able to survive the onslaught of a determined, anti-gun-rights board.”
To Eldridge, the legislators who support the measure because they think it will reduce the number of guns that criminals get their hands on aren’t correct.
“Gun control advocates can't point to a single line in SB 1657 that will prevent illegal firearm transfers or slow the illegal flow of guns to criminals,” he wrote. “What would make a difference? Vigorously enforce laws already on the books. Last month, a young Mount Prospect woman pleaded guilty to four gun felonies, including the unlawful transfer of firearms to known gang members and juveniles. She was sentenced to probation. No amount of regulations on law-abiding gun dealers will stop a trafficker like her. Only incarceration will.”
Mark Chesnut has been the editor of America’s 1st Freedom magazine for nearly 17 years and is an avid hunter, shooter and political observer.