Gun legislation vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner brought on healthy debate May 16 to the Senate floor.
SB337, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst), would create the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act.
“We are back with a very different approach to regulating gun control dealers in the state of Illinois,” Harmon said.
Sen. Dale A. Righter (R-Matton)
The bill’s key components, which include the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, tackle securing inventory from theft, maintaining safe stores and a creating a well-trained workforce.
“I think we are back with a much better bill that addresses the governor’s concerns about burdening businesses,” Harmon said.
Nybo asked Harmon to point out exactly how the bill's backers addressed Rauner’s concerns over businesses, specifically regarding big box exemption and mom-and-pop dun dealers. Harmon explained the former exemption based on 20 percent of revenue derived from gun sales was removed.
“Now all gun dealers are subject to the same provision,” Harmon said.
Though he supports the bill, it is not complete, said Nybo, who added that not all retailers are on board with added provisions. To explain his stance, Nybo said when dealing with gun legislation, the General Assembly often handles the matter in two ways: either a gun control bill or a crime control bill.
“I think it has moved from an overly burdensome regulatory and solely gun control bill more in the direction of where I think we need to be, which is focusing on the law enforcement aspect,” Nybo said.
Now a crime control bill, Nybo said, SB337 differs significantly in at least six ways to last year’s legislation. After explaining each difference in detail, Nybo said the bill before members on the floor accomplishes two things.
“If you are going to run a gun shop, you need to do so safely, and here are the best practices we are requiring you to comply with to run your shop safely,” Nybo said.
But more importantly, if you don’t run your shop safely, or you enable gun trafficking, or you allow for straw purchases or do anything else illegal, your business is over, Nybo said.
“We will go after, we will stop you and we will penalize you,” Nybo said.
Rep. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said though his GOP peer proved some good points, he had to rise in respectful opposition. He said it seems to him whether the General Assembly is discussing the increasing spiral of violence in society, public schools, Medicaid programs or fixing roads and bridges, it does not define where the problem is coming from.
“There is no demonstrable evidence that the people who are abiding by the law and legally selling firearms in this state are the issue here,” Righter said.
Gun dealers are not selling firearms to gang members, he added, nor are they offering them to violent criminals.
“There is no question that on occasion, the police recover a firearm in the commission of a crime that was used and sold by someone that was legally selling,” Righter said.
Righter, like Rauner who said he thought the bill was burdensome to businesses last year, said it remains the same, though he did note there are some good elements to the legislation.
“I thank the sponsor for what he has done, but I respectfully ask for a no vote,” Righter concluded.
SB337 passed 35-18 and will now go to the House floor for debate.