Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Act (GDLA) in January 2019, shortly after taking office. Despite claims from the bill’s sponsors that it would not impact dealers or cause any hardship, those predictions have not aged well. In reality, the new law has decimated gun dealers in the Land of Lincoln.
Illinois’ new Dealer Licensing Act took effect on Wednesday, July 17th. If dealers didn’t have approval from the Illinois State Police, or have an application on file to become licensed dealers (with the heavy fee to accompany the application) they can no longer transfer firearms to non-dealers as part of gun sales.
In December, 2018, the BATFE reports that Illinois had 2,436 federally licensed dealers (Type 03 Curios and Relics dealers excluded).
Just two days before the July 17th deadline, the Illinois State Police reported to media that 1,140 dealers had applied for their Illinois licensing. That’s only 46% of dealers reported at the first of the year that wished to remain in the business of selling guns.
Looking at the BATFE’s numbers from June, 2019 (2,350 dealers), that still means under 50% of existing dealers (48.5%) planning to at least try to jump through the newly erected hurdles created by the GDLA to continue to do business.
The Center Square has the story:
More than half of Illinois’ 2,351 federally licensed gun dealers haven’t yet applied for state licenses required by the new Illinois’ Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, which takes effect Wednesday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the state’s Firearm Dealer License Certification Act on Jan. 18 after taking office. Lawmakers held the measure over from the previous General Assembly after former Gov. Bruce Rauner vowed to veto it. Rauner had previously vetoed a similar bill. He said it would lead to small businesses closing and make it harder for people to legally buy firearms.
The law Pritzker signed added regulations for gun stores that business owners have said are too burdensome. The law requires gun stores, including pawnshops that want to sell firearms, to have a state license on top of a federal license. It’s set to take effect Wednesday [July 17th].
Previous Governor Bruce Rauner saw the writing on the wall and refused to sign the bill. However, our new Gov. Pritzker, along with the bill’s sponsors, see driving off dealers as a feature, not a bug.
In June 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported there were 2,351 licensed dealers in Illinois. Illinois State Police officials said Monday that 1,140 applications for state licenses were submitted. That’s a difference is 1,211, or more than half the federally licensed dealers in the state. However, it’s unclear how many of those 1,211 federal license holders are brick-and-mortar retailers. The vast majority of dealers impacted are expected to be small operations.
Several gun stores have announced that they planned to close because of the new law.
Several? Illinois Carry has compiled a cursory list of brick and mortar stores that are folding – or at least no longer selling firearms.
Airline Pawn- Rosewood, IL: Surrendering FFL
Applied Arsenal Finishes- Watterman, IL: Moving to Minnesota
Birds-N-Brooks Army Navy Surplus- Springfield, IL: No longer selling firearms
Boomers & Blasters- Peru, IL: Closed
Dale’s Guns- Marengo, IL: Closed
Fishman’s Sporting Goods- Girard, IL: Closing
Gilmor Guns- Loves Park, IL: Closing
G M Bartelmay Guns- Morton, IL: Closing
Lazy S- Flora, IL: Closing
Lebar Custom Engraving- LeLand, IL: Closing
Lost Creek Trading Post- Marshall, IL: Moving to Indiana
M-Fred’s Guitars & Guns- Mattoon, IL: Surrendered FFL
Oglesby & Oglesby- Springfield, IL: Closing
Phil’s Village Sports Center- Arlington Heights, IL: Closing
PM Shooting- Troy, IL: Closing
The Ridge Gun Shop- Herod, IL: Closed
Shawnee Gun Service, Elizabethtown, IL: Closed
Shooting, Inc- Troy IL: Closing
The Gun Doctor- Henning, IL: Closing
Walnut Creek Shooters Supply- Brownstown, IL: No longer “selling” firearms as of 7/17
Wild Dave’s- Herrin, IL: Closing
The story continues with Todd Vandermyde summing thing up:
“As we expected, this was never about accountability, or regulating an industry, it was about driving gun dealers out of business and making it harder for people to have access to their Second Amendment rights,” said FFL Illinois Executive Director Todd Vandermyde.
Meanwhile, one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Don Harmon, told The Center Square how happy he is with the effect of the new law.
“I’m thrilled 1,100 gun dealers have applied,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Brook, who sponsored the measure. “I think it’s a real success.”
He’s thrilled only 1100 dealers have applied. No doubt he would sing a different tune if over half of Illinois polling places had closed, making it more difficult for people to vote.
The bill, passed in the previous General Assembly session, made it to the new governor’s desk through parliamentary chicanery. The Illinois State Rifle Association has filed suit to challenge the new law, citing among other things the manner with which it became law.
Last January, Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker signed into law a strict licensing regime for the state’s firearm dealers. It required any retailer selling guns in the state to go through a separate state certification process, in addition to the already existing federal licensing regime.
The state also requires owners to install video surveillance equipment, in addition to a litany of state-specific training and security requirements. The state certification costs up to $1,500 for three years. The law took effect last Wednesday.
This week, a group of dealers and the Illinois State Rifle Association brought suit against the state, arguing that the new law imposes an unfair and discriminatory financial burden on business owners. The governor’s office defends the proposal on the grounds that it makes the state safer, invoking terms such as “commonsense.”
Matt’s not terribly optimistic on their likelihood of success:
While the law is silly and will likely do little more than the lawsuit alleges, the plaintiffs here have a tremendous hill to climb. While law isn’t too terribly developed in the Second Amendment context, when it comes to other exercises of fundamental rights, the courts have been far more lenient when it comes to restrictions on businesses. It’s not often that a federal court even entertains, much less vindicates, the rights of businesses.
I serve as the executive director of Guns Save Life and we considered a legal challenge as well. In short order, we passed. In talking with the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we all agree that the suit would likely fail and agreed with the reasoning behind that assessment.
Even if the challenge should gain traction, the new governor and General Assembly would simply come into session and pass a new Gun Dealer Licensing Act. That would moot the challenge and all those legal fees incurred fighting the existing law would go un-refunded by the state. After all, you only get reimbursed on legal challenges if the petitioner wins their case.
Frankly, the votes are there in the Illinois General Assembly to pass it again as the party of gun control now has a super-majority in both houses. And our governor would delight in signing it once more.
Furthermore, if anti-gun legislators have a chance at a re-do, they could make it a lot more onerous to both dealers and private citizens seeking to buy and sell guns privately.
Time will tell how this shakes out. All of the home-based FFLs I’ve talked to in my travels as GSL’s point man — save exactly two — told me they have decided not to seek the expensive Illinois gun dealer license and expose themselves to all of the liabilities it imposes.
If this legislation comes to your state, you should fight it vigorously if you like a healthy marketplace when it comes to places to buy guns.