Following the Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead, Democrats in the Illinois House plan to take up a package of gun safety measures this week.
One of the suggested proposals will require gun dealerships to obtain a state license. Advocates say this will ensure facilities have the proper video surveillance and staff training. The Senate approved the measure last Spring over strong opposition. Small business owners, for example, were concerned about high licensing costs. A trailer bill will address these concerns to make sure costs are reasonable and affordable.
State Rep. Kathleen Willis, the Democratic sponsor from Addison, says she believes recent events have pushed more lawmakers to take a stand on gun safety and regulation: If any were on the fence about supporting these measures, more have changed their minds in the last few months. “Illinois is not going to do another moment of silence, stand up and give prayers, and not act," she says.
Willis says an effort to ban bump stocks, in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting last year, will also make a comeback after initially failing to garner enough support. Also on the table, prohibiting those under 21 from purchasing military-style assault weapons and allowing family members to go to court to take away guns if a person is deemed a threat.
Lawmakers say these and other measures have a better chance to pass when they zero-in on specifics, rather than trying to regulate broad issues across the board.
Kathleen Sances, president and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, agrees. She says lawmakers and the public need to focus on Illinois-specific measures that will work in the immediate future.
“We have children dying every day here in Illinois, and we’ve been fighting to put in some measure that would stop criminals [and] gang members, from getting guns,” she says.
Sances says she believes all of the measures coming up in the General Assembly this week address important gun-safety issues, but she considers the gun dealer licensing proposal to be the one measure that will cause an immediate change.
If the House passes the measure this week, Sances says it will become the first state-wide measure to pass a General Assembly since the Parkland, Fla., shooting two weeks ago.