Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act into law this past week. The bill enacts all manner of onerous and expensive regulations upon dealers, with up to $10,000 in civil penalties for each and every violation.
The bill's advocates claim that Illinois gun dealers need more supervision. "40 percent of guns used in crimes in Chicago came from negligent gun dealers within Illinois," the group G-Pac claimed in their press release cheering the governor's action.
Nevermind that the average "time to crime" for guns traced back to Illinois dealers in 2017 stood at 9.28 years, right at the national average of 9.3 years.
This new bill basically represents last year's Gun Dealer Licensing Act, re-tooled to eliminate many of the largest objections of gun rights groups and squishy, supposedly pro-gun Prairie State politicians. More on that in a bit.
First this from the Chicago Tribune . . .
Minutes before Pritzker put pen to paper amid anti-violence advocates at Young Elementary School, the Illinois State Rifle Association threatened to challenge the new law in court.
“Just because we’re signing this today doesn’t mean there isn’t more to do,” Pritzker said. “But this particular bill is very important.”
Pritzker said he wants Illinois to outlaw bump stocks and trigger cranks this year, as well as put more money toward social services. But he said “I don’t know that” lawmakers would push for a ban on assault weapons this year.
Under the new law Pritzker signed Thursday, it would be illegal for retailers to sell guns without being certified by the state. To qualify, stores first must be licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Then, they would have to submit a copy of that license to the Illinois State Police, along with an affidavit declaring it remains valid. Shop owners would have to install surveillance equipment, maintain an electronic inventory, establish anti-theft measures and require employees to undergo annual training.
A certification would cost retailers a maximum of $1,500, and the regulations would apply to small businesses as well as big-box retailers. Sellers without a retail location would be charged $300 for certification. Supporters contend the new rules could reduce gun violence because federal regulators are stretched too thin to adequately handle all the shops operating in Illinois.
Pritzker signed the bill into law a mere four days into his term. He did following very dubious parliamentary maneuvering by Senate President John Cullerton on a bill passed in the 100th Illinois General Assembly, the previous legislative session.
Constitutionally in Illinois, when a new General Assembly session gets sworn in, all previous bills under consideration die in a legal principle known as sine die. This year, for the first time, a Governor signed into law a measure passed under the previous General Assembly. That creates constitutional questions about the legitimacy of Pritzker's action and the law.
Furthermore, if gun control advocates have the votes to pass this measure, why do they need to resort to political chicanery to sign this bill into law?
As the Tribune noted, the Illinois State Rifle Association has threatened to fight the governor's signature in court. I wish them the best of luck. Court actions take a lot of financial resources and time – months or even years. And even if ISRA gets a court decision striking down the measure, the current General Assembly can pass a new bill and have the governor sign it into law in a matter of days.
The good news for Illinoisans? As mentioned earlier, this latest bill deleted the worst of the worst provisions of last year's Gun Dealer Licensing Act vetoed last year by now former-Governor Bruce Rauner. Those included much steeper fees for dealers, rationing gun owners to nine firearm transfers per year, and a formal end to private firearm transfers in the Prairie State.
The bad news for our gun dealers? This new law still has all manner of onerous provisions:
- Up to a $10,000 civil penalty for each and every violation of any provision
- Requires mandatory training of employees
- Mandatory video surveillance of the entire facility, with the exception of restrooms
- Records of the video surveillance shall be maintained for at least 90 days
- Requires licensees sign up for an alarm monitoring service
- Multiple signage requirements. If one of the required signs fall off the wall or become obscured? $10,000 civil penalty. Make your check out to the Illinois State Police.
- Security plans must be submitted to the Illinois State Police and there's no set standard. In other words, an ISP bureaucrat may deem a submitted plan "inadequate" at any time for an arbitrary reason.
- Requirement that licensees make a photocopy of ID for each firearm transfer. Don't lose that copy, dealers! Each lost ID will cost you $10,000 to the ISP.
- Submit to random, unannounced inspections by any law enforcement agency or the Illinois State Police. So the Chicago Anti-gun Enforcement Unit could drop in, unannounced, at a dealer in Cairo, Illinois and go through the records with a fine tooth comb. Any violations, no matter how trivial, will cost the dealer $10,000. Each.
- All manner of application and ongoing paperwork requirements. Miss filing the appropriate affidavit for a new employee, break out that checkbook.
- Implementation of electronic-based record keeping system by 2020. Better make sure you backup those hard drives! Each record lost will cost you… big bucks.
Given all the new fees and paperwork requirements in store for Illinois dealers, some estimate that half or more of Illinois Federal Firearms Licensees will surrender their licenses, putting more Illinoisans out of work.
In fact, in the latest issue of Guns Save Life's monthly journal GunNews Magazine, two dealerships advertised their businesses for sale.
An advertisement for a third dealer's property and business, including a range, appeared a month or two ago in GunNews.
Before now, gun dealerships advertising themselves for sale were few and far between.
However, given the steep civil penalties for even the smallest of errors, can anyone blame them? Lose the copy of a driver's license and pay a $10,000 fine? A sign obscured? A form not received by the ISP in a timely manner? How many dealerships can remain in business after catching two or three of those?