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Illinois Firearms Dealers Adjust To New Rules About Doing Business

Steven King, owner of Metro Shooting Supplies, inspects one of the firearms in his store. Illinois State Police put new regulations for gun stores in effect this month.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio
Steven King, owner of Metro Shooting Supplies, inspects one of the firearms in his store. Illinois State Police put new regulations for gun stores in effect this month.

BELLEVILLE — New rules from the Illinois State Police expand regulations on how firearms dealers must run their businesses. 

They directly impact how gun stores keep records, store weapons and ammunition and maintain surveillance and security systems.

Licensed dealers have to keep electronic records of their inventory and sales that can be easily searched by a firearm serial number, name of purchaser and other defining aspects of the gun or sale. 

The rules also stipulate dealers develop a written plan for how they’ll safely store firearms and ammunition during and after retail hours. 

‘Emergency rules’

A state police spokesperson told St. Louis Public Radio these regulations replace what had been proposed last August for the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker a year ago

“ISP filed Emergency Rules on Jan. 3, 2020. Those rules became effective immediately and will remain in effect for 150 days and will then be replaced with final rules,” the department said in a statement.  

The new rules will be officially published on Jan. 25 in the Secretary of State register. The department provided St. Louis Public Radio with a copy of the rules. 

These revisions address some of the pushback state police received from gun dealers at a public hearing they held on the proposed rules last October.

Advocates for gun dealers were particularly concerned with vague definitions the department originally laid out, like requiring firearms and ammunition be stored separately. 

“What does that mean? How far? Across the room, in another room?” Valinda Rowe, spokeswoman for gun rights advocacy group IllinoisCarry.com, said during the hearing. “These are not defined industry standards. What might appear to be adequate for one person is not for another.”

The rules that went into effect in January remove the requirement that guns and ammunition be stored separately. Now, gun dealers just have to use safety devices to prevent firearms from being stolen or lost. And ammunition has to be “stored securely and out of reach of customers.” 

More changes?

“I applaud the fact that they listened and changed some of the rules,” said Steven King, owner of Metro Shooting Supplies in Belleville. “What I’m concerned about is how many times is it going to change?”

Metro Shooting Supplies won’t have to make many alterations to its operation, King said. 

“I thought it was just another set of redundant rules,” he said. “Everything that they want done, we have already been doing for 18 years.”

King said most of the new provisions from the state police are regulations that the federal government has enforced for decades. 

While the rules appear to give some clarity for gun shop owners, more than 1,000 gun dealers across the state decided against seeking the permit to stay in business for this year because of the uncertainty from before, King said. 

“That’s where the pain of this is,” he said. “We don’t know where those dealers that closed are.”

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid

Send questions and comments about this article to: feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.