I've been somewhat narrowly focused on pending Illinois legislation aimed at destroying what's left of the Second Amendment here, in my recent blog entries (here and here) about the drive to ban homeland defense firearms in the state. Hopefully I can be forgiven for sticking with an Illinois-centric perspective a bit longer--this does, after all, hit close to home.
Today's topic is a rather more subtle attack on gun rights--it doesn't ban any firearms outright--HB 0796, the Handgun Dealer Licensing Act takes a different angle of attack. Most know that any firearms dealer anywhere in the country already faces rigorous (some might say suffocating) licensing requirements, enforced by the BATFE.
Apparently, these requirements are not onerous enough for those in the Illinois legislature who are waging a jihad on gun rights, because they would now like to require a state license (administered by the Illinois State Police), in addition to the federal license, for any firearms dealer whose inventory includes a handgun. Actually, it goes farther than that, and would require the same license for any gunsmith who works on handguns.
The requirements include (among other things) A) an extensive criminal background check--despite the fact that the federal license requires one; B) a $300 fee, for a three year license--the renewal fee is also $300; and c) fingerprinting, with an associated, undisclosed "fingerprinting fee," payable to (guess who) the Illinois State Police (this is beginning to look like a pretty nice source of income for the ISP, isn't it?).
Small, part time dealers who operate out of their homes will be largely eliminated not only by the expense (which would also include the Retailers' Occupation Tax), but also by a requirement that the building in which they conduct the business (their homes, in the specific case I refer to here) be located in an area that is zoned for retail commerce.
The bill also makes vague references to "reasonable precautions" the dealer must take to avoid selling his wares to someone who intends to use them for criminal purposes. These precautions include the redundant (because it is already required by federal law) requirement to refuse obvious "straw sales," the dealer must refuse sales to a prospective buyer whose home address lies in one of the numerous municipalities in Illinois in which handgun possession is banned outright, and other "reasonable precautions"--and the requirements are not limited to those specified in the bill--meaning . . . whatever the "authorities" want it to. Basically, it seems that if you are not clairvoyant, the state of Illinois is likely to find you unsuitable to be a handgun dealer.
Worse yet is this part (emphasis added):
Section 15. License application; fees; penalty.Notice the "may" in there--meaning that even if an applicant (or renewal applicant) meets every one of these requirements, he or she can still be denied a license, for any, arbitrary reason (or no reason it all). This means that any time the state wants to shut down all handgun sales in the state, all license applications can be denied. Since people without Federal Firearms Licenses cannot buy handguns out of state, the vast majority of people do not have that option. I suspect that this is the real motivation behind this proposed legislation.
(a) The Department may grant a handgun dealer license to an
applicant who satisfies the following requirements: . . .
Partly to save the what might be the most dramatically, insidiously evil part for last, and partly because it only now finally occurred to me, I will now point out what might be worse yet. I had assumed that this bill was all about handguns (the title, after all, is the Handgun Dealer Licensing Act), but in the actual text of the bill, "handgun dealer" is defined as someone engaged in the business of selling concealable firearms--after the title section, no more mention is made of handguns--it's all about "concealable firearms." What they don't define, however, is what, exactly, constitutes a "concealable firearm"--people have concealed AK-47's under trench coats or long robes. Come to think of it, back in my days as an artilleryman, we "concealed" entire howitzers under camouflage nets. Is this bill intended to end not just the sale of handguns in the state, but of all guns?
In a state governed by "Gun Ban Rod," I wouldn't bet against it.