Gun groups urge opposition to Illinois state licensing bill

The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation are urging gun rights advocates to oppose a new bill that would require Illinois gun dealers to be licensed at the state and federal levels.

The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and NSSF Senior Vice President Larry Keane have come out strongly against the proposal — Senate Bill 1657, passed in late April by the Illinois Senate — which would essentially mandate state licensing for all Illinois firearms dealers, who are currently only required to be licensed at the federal level.

The NRA-ILA said the bill “would create onerous mandatory regulations, fees potentially in the thousands of dollars and excessive amounts of red tape that would almost assuredly force the closure of many firearm dealers, and prevent prospective owners from opening new ones.”

Keane argued the bill would do nothing to prevent gun crime in Chicago, writing: “Instead of getting tough on crime, Illinois lawmakers are going after small-business firearms dealers, piling on duplicative regulations and creating a channel by which they can shut down a gun business a retailer for ‘gun safety’ reasons.”

Controversy arose after the bill was passed when it was reported that the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association had received an exemption so long as the group did not oppose the bill.

Gun companies Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms, both associated with the IFMA, then came under fire and were accused of selling out the gun rights community. Both companies subsequently denied acting in concert with the IFMA and have since expressed strong opposition to the bill.

The measure is currently being considered in the Rules Committee of the Illinois House.