Featured image: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a gun-dealer law at a school in Chicago on Jan. 17, as state Rep. Kathleen Willis, who sponsored the bill in the House (immediately to the left of the governor), and Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson (second from the right of Willis) look on. | Photo provided
A bill previously vetoed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to more tightly regulate gun dealers in the state of Illinois was signed Jan. 17 by newly inaugurated Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The bill, sponsored by Oak Park state Sen. Don Harmon, imposes a number of new regulations that Harmon said is a “big victory” for gun control advocates. State Rep. Kathleen Willis (77th), whose district includes Melrose Park, sponsored the measure in the House.
The new law requires gun dealers to safely store firearms, make copies of firearm owner identification card or other identification and attach them to each gun sale, make employees undergo annual training for gun sales and open their businesses for inspection by state, federal and local law enforcement officials.
Harmon said in a telephone interview that he first proposed the legislation 16 years ago.
“I wonder how many lives could have been saved if it had been signed earlier,” he said.
Harmon said that 40 percent of guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago are traced to Illinois gun dealers, and almost half of those are traced to a handful of dealers in suburban Cook County.
“This bill will give local law enforcement officials the tools to better assess where those guns are coming from and interact with dealers selling so many guns being used in crimes,” Harmon told Wednesday Journal.
Pritzker said in a press release that the new law is “a long-overdue step” in preventing gun violence and making sure “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.”
“But our work is not over,” Pritzker added. “Now is the time to ban weapons of war from our streets. And like bump stocks, trigger cranks need to be outlawed once and for all.”
“It’s time to consider our moral obligation to our communities,” said Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson, who was present at the signing ceremony.
“Our highest priority must be keeping our children free of gun violence. Senate Bill 337 puts that extra layer of protection in place to keep us all safe,” she said.
A similar measure was vetoed in March of 2018 by Rauner.
Harmon said the Illinois General Assembly used a parliamentary motion to hold the more recently passed iteration of the bill until Pritzker was sworn into office.
“If Rauner said, ‘The election is over, I’ll sign,’ then we would have sent it, but I don’t think that would have happened,” Harmon said.
Harmon said Rauner’s previous stated justification for vetoing the bill “masked his true reasons” for opposing the legislation.
“He said it impeded on small business and other excuses, but they were excuses because he’s a gun guy,” Harmon said.
He said the new law is just a start and that there is “much more we could be doing” to curb gun violence. VFP
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