New regulatory layer for Illinois gun stores fails in House

A bill aimed at adding another layer of regulatory requirements on Illinois gun stores is likely dead following a defeat in the House and the end of the spring legislative session.

House Bill 1016 sought to create a state licensing system for both gun stores and their employees, which would require continuing education, and mandate that they install video surveillance and alarm systems, the specifications for which would be determined at a later date.

The bill underwent six major amendments – including language that exempted big-box stores that sell firearms from the new requirements – before House lawmakers Friday rejected it on a 43-55 vote.

House sponsor Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, promptly filed a seventh version, which did not go to a vote before the spring session that ended at midnight Tuesday.

Gun-control advocates called the bill a necessity in helping lower gun violence, while gun-rights supporters and McHenry County firearm store owners called the law a thinly veiled effort to regulate existing gun stores out of existence and make it impossible for new ones to open.

The proposed law would have required a gun store and its employees to get a state license on top of the existing requirements of a federal firearms license and a state Firearm Owners Identification card. To get a gun store license, one would have to have sold guns for at least five years, and would require a letter of recommendation from the sheriff in the county of the proposed store.

The new regulatory requirements, which a fiscal note estimated would cost $2.1 million a year, would have been under the auspices of a five-member appointed board that would have the power to inspect stores without announcement and shut them down for cause.

All five of McHenry County’s representatives in the House, four Republicans and one Democrat, voted against the measure.