Gun shop owner sues Naperville over ban on selling certain high-powered rifles

The owner of a Naperville gun shop has filed a federal lawsuit against the city to prevent a recently approved ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered rifles from taking effect.

Asking a judge to declare the ordinance unconstitutional, Robert Bevis, the owner of Law Weapons and Supply, and the National Association for Gun Rights filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The Naperville City Council last month passed the ordinance, which is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, prohibiting the sale of certain high-powered rifles within city limits except for sales to federal, state or local law enforcement agencies and officers. The exception also applies to sales to the U.S. military, including the Illinois National Guard.

The ban affects two gun shops in the city, Law Weapons and Supply and Range USA, in addition to other businesses such as pawnshops. Private sales of the weapons are not prohibited, and residents are not blocked from owning them.

However, Bevis and the National Association for Gun Rights claim in their lawsuit that the ordinance violates Bevis' and his customers' Second Amendment rights because it "burdens their right to acquire arms for the defense of their homes."

"The city's regulation is not consistent with the nation's history and tradition of firearm regulation," the lawsuit states.

Even though the city council passed the ordinance 8-1 at its Aug. 16 meeting - Paul Hinterlong was the lone "no" vote - the many hours of emotional debate signaled the possibility of legal action. In an interview last month, Bevis said he planned to exhaust every legal option to ensure the survival of his business.

He said the popular AR-15 rifle and its accessories account for more than 50% of his sales, and a large chunk of his customer base would go elsewhere if the ban went into effect.

"We are aware of the lawsuit and anticipated that there would be legal challenges, but at this point we do not have any comment," said Linda LaCloche, the city's director of communications.

Naperville City Attorney Michael DiSanto said during the July 19 city council meeting that the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented Deerfield and Highland Park during litigation against their gun laws, offered to represent Naperville for free if lawsuits were brought against the city.

The lawsuit is one of five the National Association for Gun Rights filed this week throughout the country to challenge state and local gun laws. The Naperville lawsuit asks for an injunction on the ordinance, and for the ordinance to be declared unconstitutional. The lawsuit also seeks repayment of attorney fees in addition to fees for compensatory and nominal damages.

Representatives from the National Association for Gun Rights referenced recent Supreme Court rulings in defending the merits of the lawsuits that also were filed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii. A separate lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois based on gun laws in Highland Park.

"Law-abiding gun owners are sick and tired of their unconstitutional antics which disarm millions of Americans," Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said in a statement.

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