Firearms dealers to need a state license
Lawsuit argues it violates the Second Amendment
Following through on a new law that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in January, the Illinois State Police published a set of proposed new regulations requiring gun dealers in Illinois to comply with stricter security and recordkeeping requirements.
That law, however, is being challenged in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the Illinois State Rifle Association and a number of gun dealers in the state who argue it’s an unconstitutional infringement on their right to keep and bear arms.
Known as the Firearms Dealer License Certification Act, the state law requires anyone who holds a federal firearms license to also obtain a state “certificate of license” and comply with state regulations.
Those proposed new regulations were published in the Illinois Register Aug. 23, opening a 45-day public comment period. After that, ISP may amend the proposed rules based on the feedback it receives. It then must publish a second notice and forward the proposals to the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR. That opens another 45-day comment period, after which JCAR can either approve the rules for adoption or request additional changes.
Under the proposed new rules, starting Jan. 2, 2020, all licensed and certified gun dealers who maintain an inventory will be required to have electronic security alarms that notify local law enforcement of any unauthorized intrusion into areas where firearms are kept and maintained.
In Springfield, where there are no regulations mandating security measures at gun stores, more than 50 firearms were stolen in a 2016 burglary at Letz Hunt and Sport, Inc, a gun shop in an east side residential neighborhood. The heist wasn’t discovered until the next morning. Police suspected gang members, and a few of the stolen guns have been found at crime scenes and in the hands of alleged gang members. Last December, the Springfield City Council approved a rezone to allow Letz to change hands and remain in business.
Beginning in 2020, all licensed and certified dealers operating retail locations must implement electronic record systems to track their changing inventory. That means recording all sales and purchases within 24 hours of the transaction and recording shipments from manufacturers or wholesalers within 24 hours of unpacking the shipment.
They will also be required to maintain records of sales, including a copy of the buyer’s photo ID, for at least 20 years, the same length of time required under federal regulations.
Starting Jan. 2, 2021, all certified licensees that operate retail stores will be required to maintain a video surveillance system that monitors all building entrances and exits, as well as any interior portion of the building where firearms are stored, handled, displayed or transferred.
Those certificates will cost $300 for people operating without a retail location and $1,500 for a retail location. If someone owns multiple retail locations, whether under the same name or different names, each location will have to have its own certificate of license, but the total fee cannot exceed $40,000.
“This bipartisan law is a long-overdue step to do more to prevent gun violence, to make sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, to make sure that we license gun shops just like restaurant and other businesses, and deter straw purchases, so that we can prevent someone from buying a gun for someone who is not legally allowed to own a gun,” Pritzker said when he signed the bill in January.
But gun-rights advocates have been harshly critical of the law, and at least one is now reaching out to constituents to protest the proposed new regulations.
Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, issued a news release Aug. 27 urging his constituents to take part in the public comment process.
“Generally speaking, anything that goes against a gun owner’s right goes against the Second Amendment,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m a very staunch Second Amendment believer. And I see this law as just kind of chipping away at the iceberg.”
Bailey said the cost of the state certificates, combined with the cost of the security and video monitoring systems, will likely force many small gun retailers out of business.
That’s also one of the arguments being used in the constitutional challenge filed by gun dealers and the Illinois State Rifle Association.
A hearing in that lawsuit is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Contact Peter Hancock at email@example.com.