SB 1657 Gun Dealer Licesning Act – Why its impirtant.


By Joanna Williams and Sara Knizhnik


Fact: 90% of crime guns in the US can be traced to only 5% of gun dealers, some of the most notorious of which are based right here in Illinois. 

Fact: Between 2009-2014, nearly 40% of all guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago were sold by just 4 local gun dealers. Of these 4 dealers, Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale accounted for 8% of the total number of guns that were recovered and traced to crimes in Chicago in the last 5 years!

Fact: Gun dealers are the most critical link between gun manufacturers and the public, and they are the largest source of illegally trafficked firearms in the U.S. And yet, in Illinois, they are not required to have a state license to do business. If you want to open a McDonald’s, you have to have a license. If you want to cut hair, you have to have a license. If you want to groom dogs, you have to have a license. However, if you want to sell guns, you get a Federal Firearms License (FFL), which is issued and enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  The problem with the FFL is that the ATF has no power to effectively provide any real oversight of gun dealers. And, because Illinois does not license gun dealers, there is no oversight at the state level. This is why we need SB 1657 Gun Dealer Licensing.

SB 1657 will encourage better business practices among gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable. It will help curb a major source of illegally trafficked firearms from entering our communities.  


The Act creates an Illinois State Gun Dealer License, and requires that businesses that sell firearms obtain a state license. Provisions of the Act include:

·       Law Enforcement Approval & Inspections

·       Background Checks for Licensees and Their Employees

·       Security Requirements

·       Business Location Restrictions

·       Training

·       Penalties

What it will not do:

·       It will not add to the retail cost of firearms.

·       It will not register your firearms with the state police, ATF, or any other governmental entity.

·       It will not prohibit you from purchasing or selling a specified number of guns a year.

What this bill WILL DO is potentially take 40% of crime guns off Illinois streets.


     The Illinois Senate passed SB 1657 Gun Dealer Licensing on April 27, 2017.  Now we need to make sure that it is passed by the Illinois House and signed by Governor Rauner.

     So, you know what comes next. Call your State Representative and urge him/her to vote yes on SB 1657. Our elected officials need to hear that this is what we, their constituents, want. We can’t afford to be bystanders. We all have a personal responsibility to let our voices be heard, and to fight for what’s right, for the benefit of all.

Facts to know when you call:

·       85% of Illinois voters support requiring all gun dealers in Illinois to be licensed by the state.

·       26 states have enacted some type of dealer license to fill the gap in the federal firearms laws.

·       Increased regulation of dealers to prevent straw purchases has been associated with an 84% DECREASE in the number of guns from those dealers used being in crimes.

After you call: More actions you can take to support the passage of SB 1657:

·       (To repeat):  Everyone in Illinois should call their IL House Representative and ask him/her to vote YES on SB1657 Gun Dealer Licensing. You can find out who your rep is by entering your address at this link:  Click the red button that says “Call Your Legislator.” Be sure to leave a comment about why it is important to you to see this bill become law. Please ask everyone in your personal and social networks in Illinois to do the same.

·       Host a phone bank, postcard writing party, coffee, wine tasting, etc. and contact key Democratic IL House Representatives. You can host an event like this either individually or with an activist group with which you are associated. Contact Sara Knizhnik at for assistance with planning events like these.

·       Collect petition signatures to send to Gov. Rauner asking him not to veto the bill after it passes the House. Petitions are at:

·       Join Moms Demand Action for a lobby day in Springfield in support of SB1657 Gun Dealer Licensing on February 28, 2018. You do not have to be a member of Moms Demand Action to participate. For carpooling and other arrangements and to RSVP, please contact Jenny Stadelmann at

·       If you would like to get more deeply involved with the effort to make SB1657 Gun Dealer Licensing the law in Illinois, please contact Sara Knizhnik, Organizer, IL Council Against Handgun Violence, at

·       Join the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition – as either an individual or a group. To join, send a request to Sara Knizhnik at