Illinois' new Gun Dealer Licensing Act doesn't even take effect until July, but already it has claimed casualties. A number of small dealers have opted to close their businesses rather than submit to the expensive new rules and regulations.
As of January, 2019, Illinois has 2,464 FFL licensees. Todd Vandermyde of the trade group FFL Illinois estimates that number will fall by at least 30% before the end of the year thanks to the new gun dealer mandates. Many small dealers simply don't want the hassle or the expense the new law requires.
The Washington Free Beacon has the story:
Several gun dealers in Central and Southern Illinois are closing their businesses rather than pay what they’re saying is thousands of dollars in costs to comply with a law enacted last month.
When he signed the bill into law last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Gun Dealer Licensing Act was about stopping straw buyers.
“The reason for it is to deter straw purchases so that we can prevent someone from buying a gun for someone else who is not legally allowed to own a gun,” he said at the signing ceremony in Chicago.
For Jim Barnard, 69, couldn’t see a way to afford the cost of compliance with the new law. After more than 4 decades of operation, the owner of Fishman’s Sporting Goods in Girard had to make a tough decision.
“I’m just going to retire, I guess,” he said. “I hope that I can live off of what I’ve saved over the years.”
He made the decision to close his business in late January.
Mick Moore made the same decision for Walnut Creek Shooters Supply in Brownstown after seeing not only the cost of the license and the camera system. but also the uncertainty additional regulations and more fees.
“It’s just not worth it,” he said. “I’ve fought it and fought it but I’m just not up to the fight much longer.”
Over at the FFL Illinois Facebook page, a few dealers talked about their plans.
- William Dykstra – I'll be shutting down mine when my license expires in April. The costs outweigh the benefits at this point for a smaller dealer as it would wipe out most of my current profit to keep up with all the additional costs with annual training, electronic records, video surveillance, alarm systems, and licensing costs that this law requires. No way I can keep it open as a part time thing anymore. I don't have the capital to expand it beyond that quickly while they expand my costs over the next 3 years with various parts of the law becoming active each year.
- Kristofer Swinburn – 90 days of video is where I decided to turn in my FFL until I move to IOWA. That’s like (45)terabytes of storage for 4 camera. That’s Sounds like some serious equipment.
- Mike Weller – We have been open since 2011 and won’t be renewing this go around. We are also asking customers to get their guns out of pawn immediately.
- Bill Rusher – I’ll be closing mine.
And Wild Dave's in Herrin posted an announcement January 17th, just hours after Governor Pritzker signed the measure into law. From Facebook:
Due to the new Illinois legislation on gun dealers, Wild Dave’s will be discontinuing gun sales after the current firearms stock is liquidated. We have seen a lot of changes in the firearms business over the last 5 years, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate a business that sells firearms. In spite of rising insurance costs, companies that refuse to work with firearms businesses, the inability to market and advertise on social media platforms, competing with big box stores, and increasing online firearm sales that have hurt our retail business, we have tried to hang on to an inventory to accommodate our loyal customers. With the new state licensing fees and requirements that will be put on us, it is no longer worth the liability to us.
We are incredibly sad that this day has come, but we will remain Wild Dave’s! We will be transitioning fully to a Toro and Gravely lawn equipment retailer, small engine service and repair shop, as well as a retailer for utility trailers.
We appreciate your business and loyalty over the last 5 years. We hope to earn your business in the lawn equipment and trailer products and services that we offer.
Visit us soon to take advantage of our remaining firearms and ammunition inventory.
Owner, Wild Dave’s
Others have put their dealerships up for sale in an effort to recoup something as they shut down their business.
FFL Illinois' Todd Vandermyde also noted how this bill will devastate gun shows. "Most of the dealers at gun shows are these small, home dealers who will fold rather than face these new mandates," Vandermyde said in a phone interview with TTAG. "Imagine what gun shows will look like when 30% of their vendors go away."
UPDATE: I've been told by a large Central Illinois dealer that scores of FFLs have either already surrendered their licenses, or are boxing up their 4473s to ship to ATF's headquarters, along with their licenses. The exact number was 64 or 65.