The Illinois State Senate has just passed a bill which creates a state regulatory process for gun dealers and the NRA is telling its members that the result will be that gun shops will close down. Our friends in Fairfax claim that this bill “creates an onerous gun dealer licensing scheme within the state.” And according to the NRA, the whole idea of state regulations for gun shops is absurd because after all, the ATF “licenses and closely monitors all FFLs and strictly enforces any infringement of federal law.”
Let’s begin by getting that lie out of the way. According to our friends at The Trace, the ATF inspects roughly 7% of all gun dealers every year. Their stated goal is to visit each shop every three to five years. That’s how the NRA defines ‘close’ monitoring – every three to five years? And let’s remember that when the ATF goes into a shop, the only thing they can actually inspect is the federal paperwork (A&D Book, Form 4473) that has to be filled out for every sale. How a particular dealer actually runs the business, what kind of employees he hires, how he secures the inventory from theft, whether he is following any state or local ordinances that cover retailing of guns or anything else are beyond the ATF’s purview, because there’s nothing in Federal law which covers any of those issues at all.
The last time the ATF inspection team came into my shop, back in 2013, they walked around and made some recommendations about this and that; wanted to know if my video system was working (it hadn’t worked for years,) wanted to know whether my alarm system was central station, blah, blah, blah. I could have told them to shut up and get done with their inspection because I wasn’t obligated to discuss any of those things with anyone except the police chief in my town because my state has a state gun dealer license requirement which generates a few bucks in the license fee but beyond that, nobody cares.
The proposed Illinois law, which the NRA is saying will end retail gun sales within the state (although big-box stores are exempt from its provisions) will take effect in 2020 after a Gun Dealer Licensing Board sets up shop in 2019. The Board will consist of five members, two from law enforcement agencies, a third being a federally-licensed gun dealer, the fourth being a licensed attorney and the fifth being “a representative of an advocacy group for public safety.”
And that’s what’s sticking in the NRA’s craw. Because you know and I know that this public safety advocate isn’t going to be a staff member of the NRA. He or she will no doubt be another tree-hugging, gun-grabbing liberal whose presence on the licensing board almost guarantees that the poor, woebegone gun dealer in Illinois is going to get screwed. And when it comes to getting screwed, the NRA states that in addition to all kinds of onerous regulations, gun dealers in Illinois could face “fees potentially in the thousands of dollars,” no ifs, ands, or buts.
There’s only one little problem. If you bother to read through the entire 45 pages of the bill, you’ll discover that the only fee which is mentioned is a $50 fee if a dealer sends in a check which bounces and can’t be cashed. The actual fee schedule for developing and implementing the law’s provisions remain to be established after the Gun Dealer Licensing Board gets to work.
Know what? The stories which appear on the NRA-ILA website about gun laws increasingly remind me of the tweets pushed out each day by President Adolf Trump. Not only don’t the NRA-ILA bear any relationship to reality, but they contain content which is contradicted again and again by a simple reading of the relevant legal text.
I know, I know. The NRA’s self-appointed task is to protect its members from any threat to their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But the 2nd Amendment doesn’t say anything about whether you can buy a gun, just that you can own one.