A gun control bill that was supported and co-sponsored by the area’s Democratic lawmakers — including state Representatives Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) and Kathleen Willis (77th), and state Sen. Kimberly L. Lightford (4th) — is now headed to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The Illinois House of Representatives approved the Gun Dealer Licensing Act on Feb. 28, in a 64-52 vote. It was introduced by state Sen. Don Harmon ( 39th) and approved in the Illinois Senate last year.
It requires gun dealers to be licensed and their employees must undergo background checks and be trained to conduct background checks of purchasers. That training is aimed at better enabling gun dealers to identify straw purchasers.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation also is empowered to inspect firearms dealers’ business. Dealers also are required to install video surveillance of their businesses and keep records of purchasers’ identification.
“When I first introduced the gun dealer licensing bill, I thought we’d be having this celebration a lot sooner,” Harmon said in a press release. “After all the work we’ve done with advocacy groups over the years, I’m thrilled that we’ve finally been able to advance this commonsense gun law to try to take some illegal guns off our streets.”
He added that although the bill won’t “solve all our problems,” Harmon noted that other states have adopted similar legislation and have seen a 65 percent reduction in gun-related crimes.
“I can only hope we reach that number, but I know this bill will at least keep some guns off the street and some young people alive,” he said.
Rauner has not said publicly whether he will sign the bill.
The House also approved a separate bill banning the sale of bump stocks, which are used to convert semi-automatic rifles into automatic weapons; while two other bills would require a 72-hour wait before a buyer can get an assault-style weapon and would ban the sale of assault weapons to individuals under 21 years old.
Those proposals, all of which have the backing of Willis and Welch, now head to the state Senate for consideration. The two representatives are also co-sponsors of a number of the measures.
“We are taking important, courageous steps to stand up against the powerful gun lobby and do what is right for the people we represent,” said Welch in a statement released on March 1. “Even though we have taken strides, there is still work to be done to curb violence in our communities and keep our children safe.” VFP
Michael Romain contributed to this article.
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