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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

The uproar created by the Illinois General Assembly’s action to license gun dealers in the state has largely died down.

In the aftermath of the bill’s passage, reaction was swift and oh, so predictable. Politicians claimed our Second Amendment rights were being stripped away. There were warnings that gun dealers will go out of business.

Those things aren’t heard anymore, largely because it was an overreaction that doesn’t reflect reality. The legislation did not ban any types of firearms. It did not ban any accessories for firearm enthusiasts. It did add another layer of licensing and some restrictions on gun sellers.

Those over-stated reactions always make me wince. I think crying wolf is a net negative for gun rights.

The new legislation requires that gun sellers, from large retail outlets to individuals selling from their home, be licensed by the State of Illinois. Admittedly, upon initial reading the license fees were eye-popping — $1,500 for retail outlets and $300 for private sellers. Then, the fine print came into focus and we realized those were five-year licenses.

Our legislators complained the license fees will put an undue burden on small businesses. Let’s take a deep breath here. The license will cost retail outlets $300 per year, which seems a modest fee. And, $60 a year for a private dealer? A family of four can drop nearly that much for a fast-food meal.

Granted, some businesses operate on a thin margin. But, the retail license breaks down to $41.67 per month or $1.37 per day. The individual license costs $5.00 per month, 17 cents per day. It’s a stretch to consider those fees would break the bank.

The law, which will go into effect in six months, will affect about 2,400 dealers.

If a person wants to make an argument that the additional layer of regulation is unnecessary, I’ll listen. You might make the case that obtaining licensing from the state will do little to curtail gun violence, I’m all ears.

But, the new law hardly seems an assault on the Second Amendment.

Reiterating: nothing in the legislation is aimed at prohibiting particular weapons. Nothing in the legislation would restrict types of weapons and accessories that can be bought and sold. The law also calls for tighter inventory control, employee training and more video monitoring.

None of that seems unreasonable.

Some area legislators said the law is unfair … without elaborating as to how or why.

The law draws a clear line between retail outlets and private dealers. Again, that seems reasonable, not to mention fair. Licensing and regulating businesses is within the purview of the state. It’s not like the state is singling out the gun industry.

Pharmacists are licensed by the state. Plumbers are licensed by the state. Even wholesale aquatic life dealers are required to have state licenses.

Finally, let’s get over the notion that any gun control legislation is directed at Southern Illinois.

There are hunters and sportsmen all over the state. West-Central Illinois is home to some of the most productive deer hunting in the state. Anyone who has traveled to the northwest corner of Illinois knows it is quite similar in terrain and topography to the Deep South.

It remains to be seen whether the new regulations will put a dent in crime. Sitting by idly will certainly accomplish nothing. Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of the new law, but it certainly is not Arm(s)ageddon.

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LES WINKELER is the outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.


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