CHICAGO | Bill Jenkins isn't your classic gun control lobbyist. In fact, he isn't even a lobbyist or a formal activist.
He is an Illinois gun owner and a father who lost a child to gun violence.
"My son was shot and killed in 1997 and ... I don't want bad guys to have guns, it's simple," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he considers Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent proposal to license every gun in Illinois a sensible move in the right direction.
"I think every responsible gun owner should care about how firearms are used and perceived in our society," he said.
The legislation, if passed by the General Assembly, would require every gun to be registered at a cost of $65. Emanuel says the legislation would allow authorities to more effectively trace guns, reduce the transfer of illegal firearms and help solve crimes.
The proposal has garnered significant opposition from some lawmakers and gun rights activists, including the Illinois State Rifle Association. Its executive director, Richard Pearson, said he considers it a tax on a civil liberty.
"We are not registering any firearms. Period," Pearson said. "I would propose a term limit for the mayor of the city of Chicago."
Besides opposing it because he sees it as a violation of the 2nd Amendment, Pearson said he believes gun possession is a necessity for self-defense and he wouldn't want to hinder people's ability to purchase and keep a firearm.
He even has used one himself, when a jewelry store he owned in Normal was close to being robbed.
"A guy came in and shut the door and locked it with a latch. He said, 'What would you do if I tried to rob you?' I always carry a .45 with me, and I showed him my .45 and said, 'I will shoot you,'" Pearson said with pride.
The would-be robber left straightaway, he said.
The legislation would make it a criminal offense if a gun owner doesn't register every firearm in his or her possession, with each weapon requiring the initial $65 fee and a $25 fee five years after the initial licensing.
Gun owners currently are required to hold the Firearm Owners Identification Program card, which Elmwood Park's Illinois Gun Works owner Don Mastrianni believes is more than enough in terms of regulation.
"In theory, all guns are de facto registered by virtue of the fact that you have to fill out a federal form, and that form stays on file with every federally licensed dealer," he said.
Mastrianni, who said he doesn't believe that the law will have any effect on his business, considers the proposal to be "a type of class warfare, in a roundabout way."
"If you are going to register them in the city, that's the city's business. But there are a lot of suburbs and towns that are going to resist that," he said.
For Jenkins, the idea that an authority is keeping tabs on people's firearms is a good thing, whether it is the state or city doing the monitoring.
"People behave better in our society when they know somebody is watching," he said.
The bill is still being finalized by Emanuel's office.