By Steve Metsch
Local gun shops are — as one employee said, “one step ahead of the state,” when it comes to new legislation.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act.
The act will:
- Require background checks for gun store employees.
- Require gun dealers to keep their business premises open for inspection by law enforcement during business hours.
- Require training for gun dealers and gun store employees on responsible business practices and the law applicable to selling firearms.
- Require video surveillance and alarm systems for all brick and mortar locations.
In October 2015, Lyons became the first community in Cook County to impose stricter rules on gun dealers. The new state law includes the same provisions as enacted in Lyons.
Those new rules were approved three months after Lyons was included in a civil lawsuit by lawyers for the Coalition for Safe Chicago Communities demanding tighter rules on gun sales.
Phone messages to Blackhawk Tactical in Alsip and Eagle Sports Range in Oak Forest were not returned. On their websites, both gun shops said they provide the proper training for people who want to use a gun.
In an email sent to Eagles Sports Range, a staff member said that all gun owners must register at the desk with a valid ID before entering. Illinois residents must have a FOID card and present a driver’s license or state-issued ID. Staff at the gun shop added that residents need to be at least 18 years old to use the range.
No one at Eagle Sports Range commented directly on the new gun law.
Louie Yanez, co-manager at Bridgeview Sport Sales, 7410 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview, said they’ve been taking those precautions already.
“We have everything that was going to be required. All of our employees are pretty knowledgeable. We don’t mess around,” Yanez said.
“We’ve got, I don’t even know, how many cameras in here. Our storeroom is actually a safe, pretty much a vault. And the police station is about three blocks away from here,” Yanez said.
The same holds true at Midwest Gun & Pistol Range, 8565 Plainfield Road, in Lyons, which, a few years ago, began adhering to the new stringent security measures that won acclaim nationwide.
“I haven’t had a chance to go through the legislation, but all the stuff that’s in there, we do already,” said the Midwest owner.
His first name is Noel. He declined to reveal his last name.
“We have video surveillance. We have to keep the store locked up. We have the alarm system. We have deterrents for smash-and-grab,” Noel said.
“We keep records, we do background checks. All the requirements the state passed are already in place here,” he added.
Gun shop owners are “on the same page with the state,” he said.
“We don’t want bad guys to get guns and kill people with them.”
But, he cautioned, if a criminal has ill intentions, no laws on the books will stop that criminal.
“You can pass as many laws as you want. They won’t stop a bad guy from doing bad things,” he said.
A phone call to Shoot Point Blank in Hodgkins was directed to the corporate headquarters in Blue Ash, Ohio. A phone call there Monday was not returned. That company also operates gun stores in Naperville and Mokena in Illinois and another shop in northwest Indiana.