Illinois Gun Store Licensing Proposal Languishes

A legislative proposal to regulate gun dealers in the state seemed to have political momentum–until the NRA and other pro-gun forces began twisting arms of lawmakers.

As Chicago continues on track for another staggering homicide total in 2017, an innovative approach to regulating gun dealers in Illinois will wait until next year for a chance to become law, reports The Trace. The bill is the latest casualty of the state’s tight network of pro-gun lobbyists, activists, bloggers and firearms businesses, its sponsor said. State Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, shepherded the Gun Dealer Licensing Act out of the upper chamber this spring on a vote of 30-21. Up next was the state House, where his fellow Democrats hold a comfortable 67-51 majority. Harmon said that state’s pro-gun forces, backed by the NRA, had swayed enough House members to prompt the legislation’s sponsor in that chamber to hold back the measure, which was left sitting on the shelf when the Legislature adjourned for the year.

Gun-store licensing has been a longstanding goal for gun reformers in Illinois. Harmon seemed to have cleared a path for that oversight when he secured a neutral position on his bill from the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association. But once the bill reached the House, pro-gun forces persuaded gun manufacturers to actively oppose the legislation. There are 2,400 federally licensed gun dealers in Illinois, and many go years without direct scrutiny from the ATF, which in 2016 inspected just 6.3 percent of licensed sellers. Harmon said his House allies were still working to secure a winning margin for the bill when the Legislature returns in January.  Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has not indicated whether he would sign the proposal, should it reach his desk.