Legislative Recap for 2018, and 2019 Preview

The principal 2A lobbying groups in Springfield had their hands full this past session. Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, the Illinois State Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association, Illinois Carry, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation were all on-hand to help protect your Second Amendment rights against a vigorous onslaught from the well-organized gun control groups.  

The early session was largely successful in pushing back against Gun Dealer Licensing (SB-1657), but the anti-gun forces regrettably decided to capitalize on and politicize the abhorrent mass shootings in Florida and the murder of a Chicago Police Commander last Spring. Mag limits, semi-auto bans, body armor bans, gun dealer licensing, and on and on came back from the dead in February.  

2018 Wins:

Our posture was necessarily defensive – we weren’t going to get any affirmative pro-gun stuff out of committee, so suppressor legalization will have to wait for another session. We did have success with blocking the following actions:

  • HB1468: With the Governor’s help, we fended off this bill which was a nonsensical definition of semi-auto, and “assault weapon” 72 hour waiting period.  Governor Rauner vetoed this bill.
  • HB4117: This bill would have effectively outlawed most gunsmithing work. In addition to a bump stock ban, this bill rendered manufacture, purchase, possession, and carry of a trigger modification device as unlawful use of a weapon (UUW). The definition was so poorly written that any trigger upgrade, or replacement trigger would create a UUW violation. This bill failed on the house floor 48-54 after the 2A groups pointed out its gross technical flaws.
  • HB1469- House amendment 002: This was a body armor ban, cynically named for the murdered Commander Paul Bauer. Possession or use of body armor in the commission or attempted commission of a crime of is already against the law in Illinois. This ban would have made felons of lawful users of body armor, such as competitive shooters, trainers and students, EMS/First Responders, armored car drivers, c-store overnight staff, and on and on.  And the cherry on top was a 10 round magazine capacity limit. The bill was such a mess that it was never called for a House floor vote.
  • HB1465: This bill would have raised the age for purchase of “assault weapons” to 21. FFL-IL successfully pushed back in the Senate by pointing out this bill would criminalize any under-21 competitive shooter and possibly those serving in the military.  
  • HB1467: This would have allowed municipalities to ban semi-auto firearms again. With the passage of Concealed Carry, all firearms regulation in Illinois exists at the state level, pre-empting any new local ordinances.  
  • SB1657: Gun Dealer Licensing: Governor Rauner vetoed this attack on your rights and our businesses. FFL-IL contributed greatly to the veto memo and messaging. With the help of now former Senator Chris Nybo (R? Addison), Sen Don Harmon re-introduced a less toxic but still undesirable dealer licensing bill SB337. Now-former Senator Nybo’s negotiations outside the caucus succeeded in getting this bill passed by both bodies, but the Senate President put a legislative hold on the bill, preventing it from going to the Governor for veto. Former Sen Nybo’s efforts also won him the coveted endorsement from G-PAC and fellow gun control enthusiast Gabby Giffords. We hope Senator Nybo enjoys his retirement.
  • Raising the age to purchase long guns: While there was widespread talk of raising the age to purchase long guns to 21, no bill made it into law to do so.

2018 Losses:

Gun rights did take a few hits in Illinois during the 2018 session.

  • HB2354– the “Red Flag” bill: This passed enabling police to seize a lawful possessor’s firearms on the petition of a family member or law enforcement agency that the individual presents a danger to themselves or others.
  • SB3256This passed a 72 Hour Waiting Period for all guns. Starting January 1 2019 all purchases of firearms and FOID-required airguns will be subject to a 72 hour waiting period.

2019 Outlook:

The November election was something of a wipe-out for Illinois gun owners. No longer will we have the safety net of pro-gun rights Governor Rauner. The Illinois house now has a Democratic super-majority, which means they need no republicans to advance any legislation or put things on the ballot.

Conventional wisdom holds that budgetary, pension, and borrowing issues will be at the top of the stack for the incoming legislators. How much time will be focused on stripping your gun rights, or interfering with lawful firearms businesses? That is unknowable. What is important though is to support gun rights groups, and making your opinion known to your representatives.

Early signs, however, are rather grim for gun owners.  This morning, the Chicago Tribune reports that through what are likely extra-constitutional gymnastics,  the legislature could released the “hold” on the bill and delay transmittal of the bill for final action until after Pritzker is sworn in as Governor.  The bill was passed by the 100th General Assembly, a body which adjourns before the new Governor is sworn in.  In other words, the bill passed by the old General Assembly would be certified and transmitted by the new General Assembly. Such a move has never been done before, and we are in uncharted Constitutional waters here.  Unsurprisingly, the Governor-elect’s spokesperson says he’ll sign Dealer Licensing if it hits his desk.

Our message is clear and unambiguous: lawful gun dealers and law-abiding firearms owners are not the problem. Addressing limp prosecution of existing gun laws, especially in Cook County, is a good place to start though. We are 2.2 Million FOID card holders strong in Illinois, and we take this stuff seriously. Just ask former Senator Nybo.