Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a proposal sponsored by Oak Park state Sen. Don Harmon to impose stronger restrictions on gun dealers across the state.
Harmon’s Gun Dealers Licensing Act passed the Illinois House of Representatives in late February and had already been approved last year in the senate.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Rauner said the proposal would have created a new layer of bureaucracy and not kept communities safer.
Harmon’s proposal would have required gun dealers to be licensed through the state, and employees would have had to undergo training on conducting background checks and identifying straw purchasers who buy guns for those who are legally unable to do so.
Dealers also would have had to maintain a record of all sales and install surveillance cameras at their businesses. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation also would have been given the authority to conduct inspections of gun dealers’ businesses.
Harmon has been pushing the bill for the last 15 years.
Rauner told the Sun-Times the bill would do little to prevent gun crimes in the state.
Harmon responded in a press release, accusing Rauner of playing politics on the issue.
“The governor must be much more concerned about his immediate political prospects than we thought, because he decided to be a lap dog for the NRA today rather than listen to the people he represents,” Harmon said in the press release.
He said 85 percent of Illinoisans support licensing gun dealers, and Rauner is on the wrong side of the issue.
“Tomorrow students across the country will stand up and beg elected officials to do their job and protect schools from gun violence,” Harmon said. “By issuing this veto on the eve of those demonstrations, the governor is telling them that he has no intention to live up to that responsibility.”
State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th) also released a statement, calling the decision “unconscionable.”
“This is a personal issue for me,” Raoul said. “I have experienced gun violence just outside my front door on multiple occasions while my children were home, and I have close friends who lost children to gun violence within blocks of my home.
Raoul noted that the state licenses “all sorts of professions” such as physicians, lawyers and pharmacists — “even dog groomers and barbers,” he noted.
“It’s not an unreasonable request to license firearm dealers,” Raoul said. “The vast majority of voters support this measure on a bipartisan basis, and the governor turned his back on all of them today.”