At least two area gun dealers are choosing to close up shop rather than comply with a new state law.
In Facebook posts Wilson Sporting Goods, Robinson, and Lost Creek Trading Post, Marshall say they are closing and moving their businesses.
"So got a letter from our great State (NOT) in a 4 page letter they basically said they were going to get rid of the small gun shops in IL., $1,500 a year for a IL. license to sell guns, electronic reporting so they will know name, caliber, serial# of the gun (s) you buy. High priced camera systems. The electronic reporting is costly, monthly," said Glenn Wilson on his store's Facebook page. "We need to sell our store guns now."
Lost Creek in Marshall is drawing even more attention as they are choosing to move their firearm business to Indiana.
"After 14 1/2 years Lost Creek will be relocating to our Indiana location in August/September 2019. The Illinois Legislature's Gun Dealer Licensing Act is unreasonable and cost-prohibitive for us at this time. As of July 14, we will be unable to sell firearms to you in Illinois. After this date, we may remain open a short time for sales of gun related items, but no firearms," Lost Creek said on their Facebook page.
"We would like to thank our friends and customers who have supported us over the years," the post continued. "It is sad that because of the lawmakers in Illinois, we are forced to close our store in Marshall."
Every Illinois gun shop has to be licensed by the federal government to be in business. But advocates and some state lawmakers say the fed is stretched too thin to stop the shady firearm sales they say can lead to gun violence.
So, state licensing is now the law of the land. Illinois gun dealers will have to pay a license fee, set up video surveillance, and allow police to conduct regular inspections. They'll also have to show proof of customer FOID cards and IDs during those inspections. Gun shop employees will all have to be at least 21 years old to work there, and complete at least two hours of responsible business practices training each year.
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the law in January.
State Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, sponsored the bill. He says it's aimed at keeping gun dealers accountable, and preventing gun violence.
"I can't even imagine how many kids we've lost in the last 16 years because of political dithering over whether or not we should do this," he told a crowd at the signing ceremony in Chicago. "It will help, but there's more work to be done and we need to remain committed to doing that."
Steven Stewart owns C.I. Shooting Sports, a shooting range and firearm store, in Normal. He says all of this will be nothing but a headache for him.
It's just gonna make it very difficult for any smaller person to be in business," he said. "That's exactly what this was designed to do: nothing more, nothing less."
Stewart characterizes his shop as "medium" in size, but he worries about owners of smaller shops, who watch their expenses carefully.
"[We'll] be in business. But I have a lot of friends who have licenses as well, and they just can't absorb this kind of cost," he explained. "They just don't wanna deal with the bureaucracy of it and I don't blame them."
Former Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar measure last year, saying it would "do little to improve public safety". Democrats decided to hold this version of the measure for Pritzker, who had indicated he'd sign it after he was sworn into office.
Mean while a bill that would have doubled the cost Firearm Owner's Identification card fees and mandated fingerprinting did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote after being approved by the House.
Rep. Kathleen Willis said her bill to increase Firearm Owner's Identification card fees and mandate fingerprinting will not be brought to a vote by the Senate before the end of session.
State Representative Chris Miller (R-Oakland) says legislation the Illinois House approved will increase the cost of gun ownership and create a bureaucratic nightmare for both current and prospective gun owners.
The Illinois House voted to approve Senate Bill 1966 by a vote of 62-52. The measure mandates fingerprinting as a requirement to obtain/renew a FOID card at cost of $30 to the individual applying. The legislation also raises the FOID card renewals to $20 every 5 years (currently $10 for a 10-year license). Finally, it also requires private firearm sales/transfers to go through a licensed dealer and anyone in possession of firearms without an up to date FOID card would face felony charges and up to three years in prison.
"There is no regard whatsoever for people who live in rural, downstate Illinois," Miller said. "The right to bear arms is a right guaranteed to us by the Constitution. We should not have to be fingerprinted nor should we have to pay a fee just to exercise our Constitutional rights. This legislation is an attack on every honest gun owner in the state. The reality is that it will only be honest gun owners who will follow these laws."
"Nothing about this legislation will make us safe, but what it will do is punish law abiding citizens. This legislation is not a done dealyet. It still must be passed in the Senate first. I encourage everyone in central and southern Illinois who cares about their 2nd Amendment rights to call their Senator and urge them to vote 'no' on SB 1966."
Willis, a Democrat from Addison, said she remains committed to working on the bill over the summer with hopes of reviving it during the fall veto session, a brief two-week period in November when lawmakers return to the Capitol.
The push to overhaul and modernize the Firearm Owner's Identification Act was a response to the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora. The shooter, who left five dead and wounded five officers, had his FOID card revoked and was illegally in possession of firearms.
Under Willis' proposal, both new applications for FOID cards and five-year card renewals would cost $20, up from the current cost of $10. The fees would have gone toward law enforcement revocation efforts.
"The bottom line is we need to fix the revocation system, and there's no doubt about that," Willis said.