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Good idea or more bureaucracy? Dealers discuss state's new gun legislation Law.

Byline: HOLLY KEE hkee@localsouthernnews.com

MARION -- Along with the more than 400 local residents who showed up to a town hall meeting in Marion last week, at least two local gun range owners are concerned that changes in Illinois gun legislation could seriously impact their businesses.

On his fourth day in office, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law making Illinois the 16th state to establish its own certification for firearm dealers in an effort to reduce the amount of illegal guns on the street.

Paul Smith has owned Pro Gun and Indoor Range in Marion for about 15 years. As he prepared for a group of local competition shooters to compete in a "Battleship" competition, he expressed concern about the proposed legislation that would require Illinois gun dealers to be certified by the state.

"We are already certified by the federal government," he said. "Now, they want us to do the same thing for the state."

Smith believes the measure will do nothing except create a level of government that will cost taxpayers.

"They're going to create a six-member board to oversee this," he said. "Then, you'll have secretaries for them, administrative assistants, and 6-10 field reps. Look at the level of government we've just created."

Smith said the amount of money the state will collect will never cover the salaries.

Jim Barter, one of the owners of

Tombstone Gun Range in Marion, agrees. They are putting additional restraints on us that are financial," he said. "It's stuff that's redundant that we already do."

Barter, a police officer in Johnston City, said that gun dealers must already undergo background checks and fingerprinting to obtain a federal firearms license (FFL).

"We are monitored," he said. "They can walk in the door unannounced and check everything."

Barter said the proposed legislation is just putting an extra burden on the Illinois State Police.

"They're already stretched too thin as it is," he said. "Now, you're going to pull officers off the road and make them do this additional work."

He agreed with Smith's contention that the fees would not cover the cost of the program.

Smith said it is unclear exactly how much gun dealers will have to pay.

"They've said it's a flat rate of $1,500," he said. "What they didn't say was if that's for a year or five years, so we're not really sure."

Barter believes that the measure will force smaller FFL dealers to cease operations.

"The little mom and pop shops all over Southern Illinois that work on guns will not be able to absorb those costs and stay in business," he said.

Smith and Barter both agreed that the additional costs would have a financial impact on their business and possibly even the services they offer.

"We've not sat and crunched numbers," said Barter, "but I'm not sure we'll be able to continue gun sales with the additional costs."

Smith said the new measure could cost his business $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Both men also said they believe most Illinois dealers follow the laws. They also pointed out that Illinois is the only state requiring gun owners to posses a FOID card.

"Guns that are used in violent crimes are never obtained legally," said Barter.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Feb 15, 2019
Words:544
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