Remember when U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang ruled in 2014 that Chicago’s outright ban on gun stores was unconstitutional? Chang wrote, “Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms.” But at the time, CNN reported that “Chang explicitly did not rule out other types of regulation, short of a complete ban, in order to ‘minimize the access of criminals to firearms and to track the ownership of firearms.’”
Predictably, Illinois now has a bill under consideration that comes as close to a complete gun store ban as they can: the proposed “Gun Dealer Licensing Act” (Senate Bill 1657), 69 pages of regulations written to strangle, close or prevent the opening of gun stores with red tape, threats of $10,000 fines and so much more.
But don’t take our word for it. If you have a few hours to kill and are in the mood to see just how government can destroy through regulation any business it finds politically incorrect, then click on the link above and read away. Or, if you don’t have the time, we've listed just some of the bill’s egregious regulations below. As you read, imagine that you had to comply with them.
First, here’s the lowdown. This legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate by a 30-to-21 vote on April 27. At press time, it was being considered in the Illinois House, which is currently made up of 67 Democrats and 51 Republicans.
“In our experience licensed gun dealers are not the problem.” — Thomas Ahern, public information officer for the Chicago Field Division of the ATFSponsors of this legislation say its purpose is to stop criminals from obtaining guns from federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs). Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other anti-gun politicians in Illinois have a habit of blaming local gun stores for supplying criminal gangs with guns. They do this even though it is so provably untrue. Even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which inspects and regulates FFLs, has said Chicago-area gun stores are not the problem. For example, when I asked Thomas Ahern, public information officer for the Chicago Field Division of the ATF, about this topic last year, he said, “In our experience licensed gun dealers are not the problem.”
The ATF also reports its time-to-crime statistic for Illinois (the average time from the original sale of a gun to when it is found at a crime scene) is 13 years. When guns are found at a crime scene or on a criminal, police departments call the gun’s make, model and serial number in to the ATF. The ATF’s National Tracing Center then traces the gun. If the ATF finds the gun was recently sold at a gun store, they start an investigation of that store— so if there were problem stores, the ATF would be pulling their licenses and charges would be filed. You wouldn’t be able to miss the press coverage of that, of course, if it was happening.
Just those facts alone are enough to show that this proposed “Gun Dealer Licensing Act” is designed to regulate gun stores out of the state. Meanwhile, as these anti-gun legislators point the finger at legal gun owners and spend their time and public resources in an effort to regulate away an already heavily regulated industry, these lawmakers are actually getting in the way of solving the problem, as they should be spending these public resources on real solutions. It seems as if they don’t care about the homicide rate, but only about devising political machinations that’ll stop law-abiding residents from obtaining guns.
Here are a few things that would change under this law:
- It would give the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation “the authority and power to investigate any and all unlicensed activity.” This means gun dealers wouldn’t just have to be licensed, audited and more by the ATF, but also by the state of Illinois.
- It would create a “Gun Dealer Licensing Board” composed of five members with expansive powers. One member would be “a representative of an advocacy group for public safety.” This is just a guess, but it hardly seems likely the NRA will qualify, even though the NRA does more for gun safety, and therefore for public safety, than any organization in the United States. As many gun control groups have recently been calling themselves “gun safety” organizations, even though they do nothing to teach responsible and safe gun handling, it seems obvious they want to put one of them on the board. Members of this board “shall receive compensation as set by law,” so this legislation would use public money to pay this anti-gun person.
- The law specifies detailed procedures for video surveillance, for making photocopies (that can be handed over to the state) of anyone’s license who buys a firearm, and for posting signs “at each entrance to the premises” that use “block letters not less than one inch in height" reading: "THESE PREMISES ARE UNDER VIDEO SURVEILLANCE. YOUR IMAGE MAY BE RECORDED.” A gun store must also post a sign that says, “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.” We list these just to show the micromanaging and nitpicking they want to impose on stores that dare to sell freedom’s tool.
- The law states that gun stores can’t “be located in any district or area that is within 500 feet of any school, preschool, or daycare facility.” This restriction is insulting and needless, and ignores the fact that in some places, such as downtown areas, it is very hard to find a place that isn’t within 500 feet of such places.
- The law says that the state can deny or revoke a license to anyone who has an “impairment, including, but not limited to, deterioration through the aging process or loss of motor skills that results in the inability to serve the public with reasonable judgment, skill, or safety.” The law bars a lot of others from obtaining such a license, but the one quoted here just feels creepy—especially when you consider what the Obama administration tried to do to those who receive disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
There are pages and pages of more red tape, fines, restrictions, regulations … There are pages and pages of more red tape, restrictions, regulations and mandates that threaten people with felonies and fines in this so-called “Gun Dealer Licensing Act.” In fact, this bill is so loaded it could impress a European Union (EU) bureaucrat. And I don’t say that lightly, as the EU actually created a regulation that determined that all bananas must be “free of abnormal curvature;” in 2011, the EU actually passed a law claiming scientists found no evidence suggesting that drinking water can reduce dehydration; a few years back in the EU “up to one million drivers faced losing their driving licenses, because harsh EU experts deemed people with diabetes ‘unfit’ to drive.”
Those are silly regulations from an overzealous nanny state, but these potential ones in Illinois have a purpose—to make it nearly impossible to legally sell guns in the state. If a gun dealer were to misunderstand just one of the 69 pages of complex regulations, then the state could do more than put him or her out of business—it could lead to criminal prosecution.Frank Miniter is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide—Recovering the Lost Art of Manhood. He is also the author of This Will Make a Man of You and The Future of the Gun. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes for many publications. His website is FrankMiniter.com.