West Chicago considering gun shop zoning regulations, licensing

West Chicago is considering creating a new license for gun shops, along with potential changes to the zoning code to define where such shops could open.

The issues are being discussed by different committees. Staff members hope to present both proposals to the city council at the same time.

On Monday, the city's development committee will discuss the zoning proposal, which suggests gun shops be limited to general business districts and regional shopping districts. It also prohibits shops within 1,000 feet of residential zoning districts, schools, day cares, churches and other public spaces.

The plan commission already has reviewed the proposed changes and was set to take a closer look Oct. 4. About 50 members of the Illinois State Rifle Assocation came to the meeting, only to find the item was taken off the agenda.

"I don't know if they just removed it because people got wind of it or they really want to make a sincere effort to do the right thing," said Mike Weisman, an Illinois State Rifle Association board member from Glen Ellyn. "What they had was no good and they seemed to realize that and pull back on it at the last minute. The whole thing seemed a little underhanded."

The development committee will now take up the issue at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall, 475 Main St., and gun supporters are planning to attend.

Before the Oct. 4 meeting, the association sent a message to members saying the proposed zoning restrictions were "designed to ensure that there is virtually no place in West Chicago where a gun shop or range could be located."

But city planner Jeff Harris said that's inaccurate. He said spots where gun shops could open under the proposed regulations would be "fairly limited" but not eliminated.

"We're taking a couple steps back and going back to the drawing board," Harris said. "We're looking for feedback. These are only draft requirements. As part of future discussions, these restrictions could change."

As for the licensing issue, the public affairs commission already has come to a consensus that a new license should be created to give the city greater ability to regulate and monitor firearms dealers and gun shops, similar to the way it regulates building contractors, pawnbrokers, carnivals and taxis.

The license would cost $100 and need to be renewed annually.

The proposed ordinance also outlines reasons a license could be denied, suspended or revoked and lists requirements for the premises, such as installation of security cameras and alarms.

Alderman John Banas, who describes himself as a "staunch supporter of the Second Amendment," said he doesn't believe in local government regulations on gun shops, considering they are already subject to federal and state laws.

"This is really turning West Chicago into a city that's not business-friendly," he said.

Other council members, including alderwomen Jayme Sheahan and Laura Grodoski, have expressed support for the changes and said they would prefer gun shops not be downtown.

There are two gun shops in the city: Manny Segarra Guns at 2117 W. North Ave. and Liberty Guns, which recently opened downtown at 210 Main St.

City staff members said the two shops likely would be grandfathered in and not have to abide by the new regulations.

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