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Illinois has fairly strict gun control laws. To legally own a firearm in the state, a person must apply for a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card issued by the Illinois State Police. Before issuing a FOID card, the state police conduct a background check using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) maintained and operated by the FBI. Even though state law specifies that the state police deny or issue a FOID card within 30-days of the application, the process often takes up to 60 days or longer due to a backlog of applications. Once issued, FOID cards are valid for 10 years unless otherwise revoked for various reasons prior to the 10-year expiration. 

Illinois lawmakers have been trying for years to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of citizens and to stop gun dealers from selling guns. At one point, Chicago passed an ordinance to ban all gun sales within the city limits. In June 2010, the Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional. In 2012, the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Chicago’s ban on run ranges. In 2014, the city passed another gun sales ordinance, designating only a limited area within the city where gun stores were allowed to operate. It also required that all sales had to be videotaped and that the person buying the gun was only allowed to buy 1 gun in any 30-day period. Recently, a federal judge ruled that parts of this gun store regulation was unconstitutional.

Even though Chicago is not the capital of Illinois, it acts like it is and often what happens with laws in Chicago often ends up becoming state laws as well. Illinois may have a Republican governor, but the for the most part, the state is still run by liberal Democrats. Democrats enjoy a 67 to 51 majority in the state House and a 37 to 22 majority in the state Senate.

In their attempt to further restrict and control gun dealers in the state, Democrats introduced SB 1657 into the Senate. The bill, Gun Dealer Licensing Bill was designed to place a panel of 5 liberals to control all gun dealer licensing in the state. The official synopsis reads:

“Creates the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. Provides that it is unlawful for a person to engage in the business of selling, leasing, or otherwise transferring firearms without a license issued by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Provides that a dealership agent other than a dealer licensee-in-charge may act on behalf of the licensed dealership without being licensed as a dealer under the Act. Creates the Gun Dealer Licensing Board consisting of 5 members appointed by the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation to recommend policies, procedures, and rules relevant to the administration and enforcement of the Act. Provides that the holder of a dealership license issued under the Act may employ in the conduct of his or her business dealership agents. Establishes qualifications for obtaining dealership licenses and for being employed as a dealership agent. Establishes penalties for violations of the Act. Provides for rulemaking, including emergency rulemaking. Amends the Regulatory Sunset Act. Provides that the Act is repealed on January 1, 2028. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. Makes conforming changes.” [Emphasis mine]

Placing a panel of 5 anti-gun liberals to control gun dealer licensing is equivalent to revoking many gun dealer licenses, putting gun stores throughout the state, out of business.

The Senate bill narrowly passed by a single vote and the bill was then sent over to the Illinois House.

At first the bill was endorsed by the Illinois Firearms Manufacturing Association (ILFM), a lobby group composed mainly of Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory. Just before this year’s NRA convention, a couple of gun rights groups reported the deal made with ILFM, resulting in a huge backlash of gun owners against to the two firearm related companies. The companies responded by firing the ILFM lobbyists and withdrew their support of SB 1657. Officials from the companies appeared before the House to oppose the bill.

In the House, the bill failed to come to a floor vote before the legislature adjourned its Spring session. While the bill is dead at the moment, it will surely be reintroduced when the Illinois State Legislature convenes for their next session. With Democrats controlling the House, there is a chance that the bill could pass. That will leave it up to Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who although is a Republican, has waffled on some issues, much like alleged Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. At this point, no one really knows if Rauner would sign the bill or not. The very lives of Illinois gun dealers are still hanging in the balance.

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