A measure ready to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker would make things easier for some gun owners and exempts a state-run gun range from having to complying with a different law that some gun store owners have blamed, at least in part, for their decision to close shop.

Senate Bill 1139 passed both the House and Senate unanimously before lawmakers adjourned for the summer.

House sponsor, state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfry, said her measure would usher in some small and technical changes, such as tightening up the renewal timeline of concealed carry licenses.

“It would make renewed conceal carry licenses expire five years from the expiration date of the prior license as opposed to five years from the renewal application date,” Bristow said. “This would encourage current license holders to renew earlier without punishing them by cutting down on the days their license is valid.”

It also reflects federal law for law enforcement to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

“This is already done under federal law and has been a concern to law enforcement,” Bristow said.

The measure would also make other changes, such as allowing off-duty law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm while hunting.

“Currently, individuals are only allowed to carry a weapon that they would be allowed to hunt with during that hunting season,” Bristow said.

Bristow’s measure also allows military members younger than 21 to get a Firearm Owner's Identification card without parental permission. Further, it makes the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in southern Illinois exempt from complying with the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act that’s already law, something Bristow said wasn’t made clear in the Act when it passed last year. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources runs the 1,600-acre World Shooting and Recreational Complex near the city of Sparta, Illinois, outside of St. Louis.

The Firearm Dealer License Certification Act was passed by the previous General Assembly under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, who vowed to veto the measure for a second time. But a procedural move held the bill over to the new year for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature, who signed it Jan. 18.

State Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, who got the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act passed last year, praised Bristow’s bill before it passed unanimously.

“It certainly codifies our intent when we put through the Gun Dealer Licensing to exempt Sparta,” Willis said. “This codifies that to make sure there’s no doubt about it.”

Some gun store owners have blamed the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, for their decision to close.

Lazy S Shooting Supply in Flora, Illinois, posted on Facebook it was closing because complying with the act was too costly.

“It is with heavy emotions that we closed our Lazy S Shooting Supply and Gun Range,” the business posted on June 11. “Thanks to our governor who is making the rules so tough and the costs of doing legal business simply too high that we cannot afford to continue to comply just to aid their political agendas.”

The Firearm Dealer License Certification Act requires a variety of electronic record-keeping requirements and compliance with Illinois State Police reviews. It also requires video surveillance “of critical areas of the business premises, including, but not limited to, all places where firearms in inventory are stored, handled, sold, or transferred, and each entrance and exit.” Some gun dealers have said that’s too expensive to maintain.

Several other gun stores had previously announced they planned to close because of the regulations, which are set to kick in next week.

Staff Writer

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.