Even after the Democratic sponsor of a gun dealer oversight measure made changes and brought in bipartisan support, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday called a revamped effort “political grandstanding” while also blaming a familiar foe: Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday cleared the new measure that would require the Illinois State Police to certify gun dealers throughout the state, instead of the state’s Dept. of Professional and Financial Regulation.
Those were among sweeping changes made in response to Rauner’s veto of the initial measure on March 13 — just days ahead of the primary election — when he said the bill would create unnecessary layers of bureaucracy without increasing public safety.
The new measure also includes penalties for individuals who don’t maintain records of private sales, while also asking the state police to release data on guns used in crimes.
But the changes — including a lowering of certification fees for gun shops — may not be enough to win the governor’s support.
“This is the sort of legislation that comes out of the General Assembly under Madigan’s Democrats that really, it just creates hassles for businesses and honest business owners — red tape, filings and fees,” Rauner said Thursday morning on WJPF, a radio station in southern Illinois. “And it really doesn’t improve public safety and it doesn’t really stop criminals. This is the kind of legislation that really, it’s more for headlines than it really is to keep the people of Illinois safe.”
Rauner said the motivation for the new bill is “political grandstanding, grabbing for headlines rather than trying to get real improvement for the people of Illinois.”
“That happens far too often with Madigan, the Democrats and the General Assembly,” Rauner said.
The governor’s office said the “burden on small businesses” is the chief concern regarding the new bill, but noted they will fully review the bill if it makes it to his desk.
State Sen. Don Harmon, chief sponsor of the initial and revamped measures, said all impediments to small businesses have been eliminated within the new bill.
“All of the constraints on getting a license are removed. You don’t have to do a pre-license inspection. You don’t need to do an interview. All of those things that we had suggested be done before a license is granted we’ve eliminated,” Harmon, D-Oak Park, said. “Now you send the state police a copy of your federal firearm license and an affidavit saying this is my license and it’s valid.”
Harmon questioned whether the governor has read the new legislation.
“I’ve been working on this bill for 16 years without garnering many headlines. We passed a bill. The governor vetoed it. I took his criticism seriously and I’ve worked across the aisle to build a bipartisan compromise that reduces state burdens on businesses,” Harmon said. “He [Rauner] should really learn how the process works and get engaged and learn how to pass a bill.”
As for insinuations that the powerful speaker is in charge of the measure, Harmon said he hasn’t spoken to him about the bill.
“I never talked to the speaker as I was redrafting the bill and building a bipartisan coalition,” Harmon said. “He likes to blame the speaker for everything. He may be the politician most influenced by the speaker in Illinois.”
Madigan’s spokesman did not return calls for comment on Thursday.
The measure must still clear the Illinois House.