The words “red tape” were put together for instances just like this one.
Days after taking office in January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law requiring the Illinois State Police to certify the state's gun dealers.
It hasn't happened yet. The police, who were to start certifications on July 16, have yet to receive the rules required to implement the law.
This is a mind-bogglingly laissez-faire attitude on the part of the state. To attempt to turn laziness into a positive is a feat. But that's exactly what Pritzker did when he used the unfinished law as an example of his commitment to safety. He mentioned the law in the aftermath of the most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and the ongoing violence in Chicago. He said, “I signed into law the gun dealer licensing bill when I first came into office, and we are looking at other ways in which we can protect our families across the state."
That's how Pritzker turns the situation from a glaring example of not following through into a blessing for “families across the state.” By touting the benefits of a job that isn't done.
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In the midst of the country's intense debate about firearms, even a federally licensed gun dealer who's been beyond reproach for a quarter-century would be justified in feeling a little threatened already, even if only in the court of public opinion. They haven't been a resounding chorus of criticism during this delay. The Illinois State Police were supposed to begin issuing certifications to federally licensed gun dealers July 17. Meanwhile, gun dealers who applied under the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act have been allowed to continue operating as if they've been certified. Dealers had until June 17 to submit their applications in order "to continue doing business without interruption," according to the state police website. The agency received 1,158 applications.
The law is already a controversial one, drawing contrasts of passions and politics. Critics said the law was unnecessary because gun dealers are already federally licensed. Proponents say there's not enough federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives personnel and resources devoted to licensing gun dealers. The Illinois State Rifle Association has sued the state to block the law. The political cherry on top? Former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner opposed an early version of the law. Lawmakers approved the bill while Rauner was still in office, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton used a procedural maneuver to keep the paperwork off the governor's desk until Pritzker took office.
Away from the game-playing sit dealers who have taken time to fill out their applications but still don't know to what extent they'll be expected to upgrade their establishments. Among the requirements in the law are that dealers install surveillance cameras, maintain an electronic inventory, establish anti-theft measures and make sure employees go through annual training. Specific rules for those requirements are to be established.
The legislation's chief sponsor, state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, says in spite of delays, he believes the law is still having an effect. "Even without the certifications being issued, I believe Illinois gun dealers are being more mindful and attentive in their practices." Again, taking credit in the aftermath of inaction. Could anything speak more to Springfield politics?