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SPRINGFIELD — Southern Illinois lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against sweeping gun control measures Wednesday in the state legislature.

Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, objected to tough restrictions that passed the Illinois House on Wednesday as part of a sweeping package of new gun control regulations that ban bump stocks, raise the age limit to own an assault weapons and a three-day waiting period for sale of assault weapons.

“I think its overbroad and that it restricts people’s unconstitutional rights unnecessarily," Schmipf said before the vote. “I think it’s also very burdensome.”

One of the new measures, which still must go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for approval, requires gun stores in the state to be licensed. Changes to Illinois gun laws stalled last year after the Senate passed the measure, but the House failed to take them up.

Democratic House representatives Natalie Phelps-Finnie, D-Shawneetown, and Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, both voted against the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, as well as the follow-up bill that addresses the issues regarding fees, video monitoring requirements that the Gun Dealer Licensing Act mentions.

“It would hurt a lot of the small firearm stores in Southern Illinois,” Schimpf said of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act.

But Illinois Senate President John Cullerton commended his colleagues for taking action on Wednesday.

“I’m proud of the Illinois Senate’s continued leadership in pushing for safer communities,” Cullerton said in a news release. "We all recognize the need for federal action on gun safety. But in the absence of federal action, I want to encourage statehouse colleagues across the country to do what we did today, seize this opportunity to make a difference."

The Gun Dealer Licensing Act requires anyone in the business of selling, leasing or transferring firearms to be licensed with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which would ensure that gun dealers are in compliance with state and federal laws. The act also requires dealers and their employees to undergo training to ensure that they know how to conduct background checks, stop theft, store guns and how to identify if someone who is trying to purchase a gun for someone who is prohibited from purchasing one.

In Illinois, gun dealers are only licensed at the federal level by the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Although ATF requires them to do background checks on the buyer, it does not include video surveillance or background checks on all employees at the business or the gun inventory.

“An inordinate number of guns used in crimes are traced back to a handful of dealers and we don’t have the tools today to regulate those dealers,” said Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who sponsored the legislation.

The push to reconsider changes to the state’s gun laws comes after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and teachers dead, as well as slain Chicago police commander Paul Bauer, who was killed on Feb 13.

The Lethal Violence Order of Protection, which passed the Senate, would allow a family member or a law enforcement officer to petition to the court to have an individual’s firearms temporarily taken away if the individual poses a threat to themselves or others.

“It’s a bill to run gun dealers out of busines,s not to regulate them,” said Todd Vandermyde, executive director of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois. “It’s not designed to further any real cause or public safety matter. It’s trying to give people that don’t like gun shops a regulatory way to just run them out of business.”

Local legislators’ votes

HB 1273 – Bryant (N), Costello (N), Phelps-Finnie (N), Fowler (N), Schmipf (N)

HB 1465 – Bryant (N), Costello (N), Phelps-Finnie (N),

HB 1467 – Bryant (N), Costello (Y), Phelps-Finnie (N),

HB 1468 – Bryant (N), Costello (N), Phelps-Finnie (N),

SB 1657 – Bryant (N), Costello (N), Phelps-Finnie (N), Fowler (N), Schmipf (N)


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