They say that ignorance of the law is no defense, and I get why they say that. Otherwise, everyone breaking the law would simply say they didn’t know they were breaking the law. “What? It’s illegal to stab your ex-boyfriend 34 times? I had no idea.”
Of course, sometime that defense wouldn’t fly even if it were allowed, but a lot of times it would. Yes, even if people probably did know it was illegal. Reasonable doubt and all that jazz.
However, there also needs to be an exception for when the rules that went into effect last week still haven’t been published where anyone can read them.
Illinois gun dealers will get details about new state rules that were supposed to take effect a week ago, but were only just filed by the Illinois State Police.
When the Illinois Firearms Dealer License Certification Act was signed last year some aspects were to take effect Jan. 2, but the rules weren’t finalized. A state police official said those rules were filed this week, but have not yet been published by the Secretary of State’s Office.
“They anticipate them being published next week,” ISP Public Information Officer Sgt. Christopher Watson said.
Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois Executive Director Todd Vandermyde said that was a problem.
“Not every small business owner in the state looks to the Illinois Register and checks the Secretary of State’s publications every week whether or not they’re going to be impacted by something,” Vandermyde said.
The rules he has seen mandate things such as electronic record-keeping and video surveillance.
“There were well over 5,000 comments turned in opposing the rules that were filed and now a week after the rules were supposed to take effect they turn around and file some emergency rules,” Vandermyde said.
Now, my general position is never to ascribe to malice that which can be adequately ascribed to incompetence. This is probably a case of the state just dropping the ball.
However, the tin-foil hat-wearing part of my brain is also wondering if this wouldn’t be a fine way to jam up gun stores. After all, they’re not following the rules. Granted, they’re rules they have no way of even knowing about, but ignorance of the law is no defense, right?
The problem is that sometimes, ignorance of the law needs to be a completely valid defense, especially when the state is dropping the ball and moving goalposts like this. It’s impossible to expect a small business owner–and that’s a term that describes the vast majority of gun stores in this country–to check every relevant website each and every single day to make sure they’re not running afoul of brand new regulations.
Post the rules when they’re supposed to be posted or give up the ability to bust gun stores for not following them for at least a year.
Frankly, I don’t think Illinois actually gives a damn. They don’t want their citizens buying guns anyway, so why would they want to take it easy on gun stores?
At least, that’ll be the case until someone crams a lawsuit where the sun don’t shine.