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The story behind why a gun dealer licensing bill stalled

Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

* From The Trace

As a summer surge in shootings puts Chicago 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. 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 Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, 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.

OK, first of all, the Senate Democrats have a much larger majority than the House Dems. And since it barely passed the Senate, you could’ve bet right away that it would face problems in the House. And it did. The bill stalled out.

* But there’s an interesting back story

The hard-line firearms website The Truth About Guns accused Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms, two of the primary donors to the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association, of compromising their support for gun rights in exchange for exemptions for gun makers, which under the bill aren’t subject to the same vetting as sellers. The site noted that an earlier version of the bill, then opposed by the manufacturers, had included them in the monitoring requirements.

The Illinois State Rifle Association responded with an alert to its members, claiming without evidence that the time and effort spent on the new regulation would add $150 to $300 to the cost of every weapon sold by Illinois gun shops. Harmon was labeled “an enemy of the 2nd Amendment; an enemy of the Constitution; and an enemy of the people.”

The next morning, May 1, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action published an article echoing both the Truth About Guns missive and the statement from the Illinois State Rifle Association, stepping up the pressure on Springfield Armory and Rock River for their alleged betrayals. The NRA post lambasted as “pusillanimous” the statement by Springfield’s chief executive officer, Dennis Reese, explaining the manufacturing association’s neutrality, which proclaimed that the gun maker’s support for both the Second Amendment and gun owners, but said, “The legislative process is a fluid process….” The NRA noted that the bill’s exemptions for manufacturers would have saved each company substantial expenses that their competitors would have been obligated to pay.

Springfield Armory, a family-owned company that revived the name of the historic arms manufacturer chartered by George Washington in Springfield, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution, proved sensitive to the blowback. By 5 p.m. that day, Reese was vowing to work against the bill.

There’s more, so go read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gruntled University Employee - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    ==Harmon was labeled “an enemy of the 2nd Amendment; an enemy of the Constitution; and an enemy of the people.”==

    That’s the kind of hyperbole that has to stop. Especially coming from the 2nd Amendment folks of which I am a member.

  2. - walker - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    Does the ISRA audience ever get tired of their doomsday predictions?

  3. - Cornbilly - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    It’s not hyperbole when it’s true. It would be difficult to find a more anti gun politician in illinois than harmon.

  4. - logic not emotion - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    It was definitely a bad bill that would have resulted in a lot of smaller gun shops closing. Glad it failed.

  5. - LoganListener - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    The ISRA are masters of hyperbole (where the heck did they come up with an additional $300 dollar cost per firearm sale?) but this is a pretty crummy bill that largely duplicates the already stringent ATF requirements for obtaining a Federal Firearms License.

    The worst part is the requirement of 100 hours of specifically-enumerated categories of “prior experience,” which acts as a barrier for entry against the establishment of any new home-based “tabletop” FFLs. Lots of people operate these small businesses to supplement their income and are already subject to the same ATF requirements and auditing as traditional gun shops.

  6. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    The back story is intriguing, but the fact remains that only a tiny fraction ( 3-10%) of gun crimes are committed by those who legally purchase guns. So the idea that more regulation at the point of sale, will somehow reduce Chicago gun crime is a joke.

  7. - Anon Downstate - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    “Does the ISRA audience ever get tired of their doomsday predictions?”

    Well, as a counter point:

    “Does Don Harmon ever get tired of trying to inflict the City of Chicago’s problems on the rest of the State of Illinois?

    A lot of these businesses would be classed as ’small business’. It seems like senator Harmon doesn’t have a big issue with trying to ‘regulate’ these small business out of business.

  8. - Rod - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    Interesting that Senator Harmon claimed that there are many gun owners in the state who support state licensing of gun shops, I have my doubts about that. I do think there are gun owners in our State who are basically indifferent about this issue. As an ISRA member I opposed the bill to the extent I could, but Greg Harris my rep seems frightened of gun owners in general and has no gun shops in his district fully supported the bill, and going to him on this issue is a total waste of time.

    Ultimately as we discussed before on this blog, determining a straw purchaser from a legitimate purchaser by observation is no simple thing. Moreover, state auditing of licensed shops would have to be pretty sophisticated to detect patterns of purchases across stores in the state. Then they would still have to go to the ATF with their evidence most likely to get serous enforcement. It’s duplicating processes in my opinion and in the opinion of the ISRA, NRA, and a variety of organizations. Moreover, the State Police already have some authority to do this, as do County police.

    I do not know what additional costs would be created for gun buyers by state licensing, I do know Cook County ammunition taxes have effectively caused me to stop buying all ammunition in Illinois and waiting to make purchases in Wisconsin when visiting our second home. I do the same thing now with pop too.

  9. - DuPage Bard - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    I’m thinking if this comes up during an election year, there will be some downstate Dem seats that flip for sure. Even if their good with guns how can they beat back the dog whistle of Dems are taking their guns? People aren’t going to research who voted how they’ll see the gun dealers saying Democrats took their 2nd Amendment rights.

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    ===if this comes up during an election year===

    This issue comes up every election year.

  11. - DuPage Bard - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    Lol sorry my bad, when this comes up during the election, would have been better.

  12. - Downstate43 - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    == That’s the kind of hyperbole that has to stop. Especially coming from the 2nd Amendment folks of which I am a member. ==

    While not as boisterous as ISRA’s claim, the original author’s interpretation of the bill as “innovative” is also hyperbole.

  13. - logic not emotion - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    The gun rights issue is one of the factors which may keep a democrat governor from being elected. An anti-second amendment stance will definitely cost them some votes downstate.

  14. - Highspeed - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 1:49 pm:

    Why don’t they just call it, what it is; revenue generator. It’s nothing more than a way to make money.

  15. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    I’m glad the bill stalled and I hope it does. The Trace is a Bloomberg propoganda rag, so I won’t be going there to read the story. For most of us this is old news anyway.

  16. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    once again the blackmail artists are at it. want a gun that can only be put to use by the fingerprints of the owner? Nope, the NRA does not want that. and hounds businesses that would sell such a thing into not doing it because apparently a person who sells guns is a person who hates guns. Want licensing of a business especially because the Feds can’t keep track of the selling of a lethal product? Nope, the ISRA screeches. Meanwhile, legal pals of bad guys waltz into stores numerous times and purchase (see recent case) and we could have better tracking and we’re supposed to listen to screeching. unbelievable.

  17. - Dee4Three - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    Advocates of the bill argue that because of federal capacity issues and legal barriers only 7.1% of licensed gun dealers were inspected last year. Moreover, the goal is only to get to a single dealer once every five years and they don’t even meet that. Is that true?

    More importantly, are folks beef with the legislation that
    - the actual regulations are problematic,

    - or the potential licensing fee (which isn’t outlined in the bill and both sides seem to be speculating on) is the problem

    - both?

  18. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    I’m neither a NRA or ISRA member Amalia, but I don’t want any of those things either. The only ones wanting this are the ones doing the screeching, and that’s the anti-gunners. I don’t want to see innocent people have to jump through even more hoops just to exercise a Constitutional Right. Want to stop the bad guys then try working with the NRA and ISRA instead of opposing them every chance you get. They are more knowledgeable about guns and could be a good offensive ally against crime if you just stop making them have to play defense all of the time.

  19. - Todd - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    The Trace as a “news source” If you decry IPI and their stories or Proft and his news outlets then you should decry this outlet. It was founded and funded by Bloomberg for his anti-gun propaganda.

    They never were within spitting distance in the House. They did manage to cobble together 30 votes in the Senate, that no longer exist.

    This isn’t about regulating dealers, its about running them out of business, go back and look at the capfax threads back then for the details on whats in this pie in the sky gun control scheme.

    Amilia –

    my firearms are mechanical objects that I want to do one thing — fire when the trigger is pulled. Ever have a phone lock up on you? Computer? TV set? Internet router go down? The hackers have already proved they can hack so called smart guns.

    You want them on the market fine. lets see how may they sell, but all the legislation mandates their sale and only their sale once around. That’s what we say no thanks to.

    As I said before this isn’t about regulation, its about fees and ways to run people out of business with add-ons and make it up as you go rules.

  20. - Chicago_Gunowner - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 7:33 pm:

    “claiming without evidence that the time and effort spent on the new regulation would add $150 to $300 to the cost of every weapon sold”

    Which it absolutely would. $150 is the cost savings you get when you buy a gun online and have it shipped to the small kitchen-table FFLs for the transfer. And it’s those FFLs that would be put out of business by this bill. A bill which, btw, if passed would have absolutely no effect on Illinois crime rates.

  21. - Paterakis 4 President or town hall janitor - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 7:51 pm:

    Alex paterakis is a ffl dealer. See his interview….

  22. - Chicago Guns Matter - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 9:20 pm:

    The rationale for Willis’ and Harmon’s bill is the mis-interpretation of a federal crime statistic, that 20% of the firearms recovered at Chicago crime scenes come from four suburban gun shops in extreme proximity to Chicago.

    But in order to come up with legislation and sell it as a panacea, the anti-gunners, and the anti-gun legislators have painted a portrait of gun dealers as bad actors, as if they are selling directly to criminals. They have had to ignore other factors:

    1. for 40 years there have been no gun stores in Chicago, yet it has been legal in Illinois all along for FOID holders, regardless of where in IL they live, to buy firearms legally. Couple this with a mandated waiting period, and you have to make two trips to the gun store to complete your purchase. Chicago residents must leave the city to purchase a firearm, so it’s only natural to choose to shop close to the city in order to make that purchase.. So the 4 gun shops in question have an advantage, it’s location. location, location. Ignore the 20%, it’s likely that these 4 gun shops sold 40% of all the firearms in Chicago.

    2. The anti-gunners choose to ignore another important federal crime statistic in order to sell the need to regulate local guns stores out of business: “Time to Crime”. This is the average time from the initial legal sale of a firearm until it is recovered at a crime scene. It’s 10 years nationally but 13 years in the Chicago area. Interpreted correctly: The dealer has no way of controlling the disposition of the firearm 13 years after its initial legal sale.

  23. - revvedup - Wednesday, Sep 13, 17 @ 10:46 pm:

    Illinois would create yet another bloated bureaucracy to enforce the proposed law, wasting taxpayer and business dollars in a do-nothing law. The cry of gun control has been found repeatedly wanting, so now the focus was to burden lawful businesses and FFL (Fed. Firearm License) holders until they went out of business. Springfield Armory and Rock River were caught trying to gain a market advantage over competitor firearm manufacturers and were found out. SA even posted an apology video on Youtube claiming the industry trade group SA and RR run ‘misunderstood the bill’. Antigun zealots are ready to ignore the 2nd Amendment while playing catch and release with hard-time criminals, but Illinois citizens and businesses said enough was enough (look up the committee support/oppose record of appearance numbers as partial proof) and put the heat on until the politicians listened.

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