For Illinois gun owners, Rauner's silence on gun control, confiscation bills is deafening
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hasn't said whether he will sign or veto anti-Second Amendment legislation coming his way in the wake of the Valentine’s day shooting at a Florida high school.
And given Rauner's stunning hard turn left on core GOP issues like abortion and "sanctuary state" legislation, Illinois gun owners aren't taking his silence as a positive sign.
Already on the governor’s desk: two measures local gun stores say would put them out of business, raising licensing fees and creating state "oversight boards."
Gun store owners say the boards would be run by "anti gun appointees," who would use regulation and red tape to price them out of business.
More bills are on the way, including a bill to ban and confiscate standard capacity ammunition magazines, sponsored by State Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago).
Second Amendment supporters aren't expressing confidence that Rauner, who has long claimed to be a backer of gun owner rights, has their back.
“I would hope he vetoes the dealer licensing bill because of the economic damage it will cause,” said John Boch, Executive Director of Gunssavelife.com. “I can’t even speculate. But there isn’t anything he’s said that tells us one way or the other.”
Todd Vandermyde, government relations point person for the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois (FFL-IL), which represents Illinois' local gun stores, also demurred.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.
As a candidate for governor in 2014, Rauner refused to fill out a questionnaire from the National Rifle Association (NRA) indicating his position on the Second Amendment.
That refusal, the NRA-Political Victory Fund said, was “often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights.”
Another indicator: Rauner was a staunch supporter of former U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican who actively pursued gun-control.
Rauner first ran for governor with what he claimed was no stated social agenda, just a fiscal one.
Yet he signed bills -- taxpayer funded abortions, sanctuary status for Illinois, and others -- that so alienated traditional Republicans and conservatives it opened the way for a viable primary challenge from conservative State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who is running against Rauner for in the March 20 primary election for the GOP nomination.
Ives is pro-life, opposed the sanctuary bill, and is a favorite of the NRA. She has received the top “A” rating from the NRA in each of her three terms in the House.
The dealer licensing bills, and others likely to come the governor’s way including one raising the age from 18-21 to buy semi-automatic firearms, are not policy-based, Vandermyde said.
“They are an emotional reaction to a tragedy,” he said, “based on things that won’t make a difference. They will just put more restrictions on law abiding citizens instead of criminals.”
On the dealer licensing legislation, Vandermyde said it would merely place another layer of bureaucracy on dealers who are already licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He predicted that 25 percent of dealers would close up shop right off the bat if Rauner signs the bill into law.
“It’s anti-small business, anti-veteran and anti-free-enterprise,” Vandermyde said. “It does nothing but give the Wal-Marts and the big-box stories more of an advantage over the smaller dealers.”
He said the other bills were so broadly and confusingly worded that they show most legislators know nothing about “the shooting world.”