SPRINGFIELD - A growing number of Illinois Republican appear to be softening on Second Amendment rights just as tougher stands are needed in state legislatures nationwide. Tuesday, a vote in the Illinois House attempting once again to require gun dealers in Illinois to not only be licensed by the federal ATF, but also state agencies, passed with the help of seven Republican House members.
Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson said those lawmakers that gun control activists convinced SB 337 would help stop gun trafficking are sorely mistaken about the measure's long term effects.
Among those "misinformed" Republican House members that voted for SB337 were GOP Leader Jim Durkin, GOP Floor Leader Peter Breen, bill co-sponsors David Olsen and Steve Andersson, Deborah Winger, Patti Bellock and Mike McAuliffe. The measure passed 65 to 49. It will return to the Senate for consensus because it was amended in the House.
UPDATE x1: State Rep. David Olsen (R-Wheaton) explained his reasoning for co-sponsoring and voting for SB 337:
SB 337 as amended represents improvements to the gun dealer licensing bill that was previously passed by the General Assembly and vetoed by the Governor (SB 1657). The new language maintains the priority of requiring gun dealers to follow common-sense safety practices while cracking down on businesses that are enabling or engaging in illegal gun trafficking practices. The amendment also responds to concerns that the original bill required an undue amount of time, money and resources in order for businesses to become and remain compliant, and worries about the strain it would place on the State agency charged with implementing the new changes. As a result, the new language removes much of the bureaucracy and red tape without affecting the desired result. In addition, the new language would apply to all who sell guns, including “big box” stores that were excluded from the original bill. It also includes strict consequences for non-compliance, especially for straw purchasers (those who purchase a gun for an individual who is by law forbidden to purchase a weapon).
However, most of the Illinois House Republican caucus opposed the measure.
State Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) confirmed his opposition on the House floor saying, "We believe that day-to-day safety and security in our local communities is critical. Therefore, we strongly endorse and support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, in part, 'the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' As a result, we oppose any efforts by the state or municipalities to impede the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”
Skillicorn told Illinois Review Wednesday SB 337 was "worse" than the measure Governor Rauner vetoed earlier this year. "This one included a back door gun registration," he said.
In the Illinois Senate on May 16, several Republicans joined the super-majority Democrats in supporting SB 337 on the first vote, including Republican Senators Chris Nybo, John Curran and Tom Rooney. Senator Jim Oberweis voted present, and three GOP senators - McConnaughay, McConchie and Schimpf - did not vote at all.
SB 337 roll calls for House and Senate: