Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will veto legislation that would have required gun shops in his state to obtain licenses.
The measure passed the Democratic-controlled legislature just days after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. It would have required gun dealers in Illinois to obtain a license through the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, to renew those licenses every five years and to train their employees to conduct background checks and spot potential straw purchasers.
But Rauner said Tuesday the measure amounts to burdensome regulation.
“I’m going to veto that bill. It’s just not right,” Rauner said in an interview with WJPF, a radio station in southern Illinois. “It’s unnecessary, burdensome regulation.”
Rauner said the federal government already regulates gun dealers, making state regulations redundant.
His decision comes a week before Illinois holds its primary election. Rauner faces a challenge from conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R), who voted against the firearms restrictions in the legislature.
In a statement, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) criticized Rauner, saying he is playing politics.
“With one week left in his campaign, Governor Rauner just put his primary election ahead of his primary responsibility to protect the safety of the people of Chicago and Illinois,” Emanuel said. “The governor’s decision was cruel, it was cold and it was calculated to benefit his own politics at the expense of public safety.”
The Illinois state legislature has been cautious about taking up gun control measures, despite the Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. But the massacre in Parkland and the murder of a Chicago police officer last month spurred the Assembly to act on the measure, which had already cleared the Senate.
The legislature is considering several other gun control measures, including bills to raise the minimum age at which someone could purchase an assault-style weapon, a ban on bump stocks and a 72-hour waiting period for assault weapon purchases.
A bill named for the slain Chicago officer, Commander Paul Bauer, would ban the sale of high-capacity magazines and body armor to anyone who is not a law enforcement officer; the man who allegedly shot Bauer six times was wearing body armor at the time.