Gun bill won't stop crime but could kill business for many shops, one owner says
A bill ostensibly meant to curtail crime will actually end up targeting small gun store owners, one such shopkeeper argued on a Chicago-based radio program recently.
Senate Bill 1657, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, is sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and adds another level of background checks for gun dealers. It also puts regulations in the hands a Gun Dealer Licensing Board.
As of Monday, the bill was still under consideration by the House after having passed the Senate.
“They set up a board of five people, at least three of whom more than likely have an ax to grind against guns," Dan Eldridge, the owner of Maxon Shooter's Supplies and Indoor Range in Des Plaines, told Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, hosts of "Chicago's Morning Answer." "This board is setting all of the rules and standards."
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Eldridge said the addition regulations and fees could put small gun shop owners out of business.
“After talking with the office of professional licensing in Springfield and the governor’s office, the best estimates are the license itself would be about $5,000,” he said.
Eldridge argued that despite what is being promoted as the benefits of SB1657, gun violence in Chicago will not be affected by targeting gun shop owners.
“The gangbangers do not buy their firearms from firearm dealers," he said. "That’s been proven time and time again."
Harmon has said that nearly 20 percent of guns used in crimes came from three gun shops in Cook County, but Eldridge said that the statistic is misleading.
“When they say a gun is traced back to a dealer, all that’s telling you is where that gun was originally purchased when it was new,” Eldridge said.
The trace won’t say whether a gun was recovered at a crime scene, legally possessed, or illegally possessed, and many of the guns recovered at crime scenes are approximately 15 years old, he added.
Eldridge said that while the bill calls for additional background checks, gun shop owners already go through multiple background checks by multiple agencies.
“Every owner has a thorough background check that’s conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms," he said. "It’s conducted with the FBI. Every employee at my shop who has access to firearms or ammunition possesses a firearm owner's identification card. Most possess a concealed-carry permit. These all are layers of background checks."
Eldridge said gun buyers also have to wait several days while background checks are processed before getting a weapon. He is encouraging his customers and voters across the state to contact their representatives and tell them to oppose the bill.
“There’s 2.1 million gun owners in Illinois, and I’m very optimistic that our message is being heard in Springfield,” he said.