Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park has about two weeks to try to override the Republican governor before a deadline kills the bill. He said he hopes to call a vote next week and is “half way” to getting the support he needs, but he’ll need to flip some senators who voted against the proposal last time if he’s to succeed.
The proposal would require many gun dealers to pay for a state license and have their employees take training to make sure they know how to properly conduct background checks, store guns and prevent thefts. While there have been growing calls to restrict access to firearms following a series of high-profile shootings, the state licensing bill has been more than a decade in the making as public officials grapple with how to address persistent violence in some Chicago neighborhoods.
Still, Harmon said he was hoping to capitalize on the recent wave of anti-gun sentiment that stems in part from school shooting in Parkland, Fla., saying new voices are rising up in areas once dominated by groups such as the National Rifle Association.
“For years we have been combating the intense depth but narrow breadth of NRA-supported districts,” Harmon said. “The same 20 or 30 guys show up at a senator’s office over and over and over again and demand that the senator not support common sense gun laws. And meanwhile there are 30,000 people in the district who feel the opposite but they don’t have the same intensity. And that’s something that has changed in the wake of these horrific shootings.”