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Should Illinois Require Gun Dealers To Have Licenses?

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AR-15 rifle

A gun shop in McHenry, Ill. wit an AR-15 rifle.

Charles Krupa/AP, file

In Illinois, you have to be licensed by the state to own a gun, but not to sell one. State legislators pushing to make Illinois the 26th state to require gun shop owners to be licensed at the state level says it’s necessary to fill gaps in federal firearms laws. 

Gun shop owners applying for a federal license already pay hundreds of dollars in fees, submit fingerprints and get a background check. State licensing would go further, requiring owners and their shops to comply with local ordinances, get additional training for dealers and employees and allow authorities to conduct random inspections of their businesses. Supporters of the bill say it will go a long way in curbing illegal trafficking of guns and stopping straw purchases.

But others are not so convinced, saying that going beyond federal requirements won’t do much to stop crime and instead will just overburden gun shop owners. 

Morning Shift talks to State Senator Don Harmon, the sponsor of SB 1657 “The Gun Dealer Licensing Act,” and Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, for their takes on statewide licensing of gun sellers.

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