Anti-gun activists target gun store and range planned for Chicago suburb

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

It’s been more than a decade since the city of Chicago’s ban on handguns was struck down by the Supreme Court, but in the years since the city has managed to block any gun stores or ranges from opening inside the city limits. The Chicago suburbs, however, are generally at least slightly more welcoming to firearm retailers and ranges… or at least they have been.

The village of Long Grove, Illinois could soon to be home to a Range USA gun store and range, but anti-gun activists are mounting a campaign to shut down the operation before it can open for business.

It is the proximity to nearby schools and sporting fields where kids play that has some neighbors on edge.

“They’re out here having a great time, and the thought that they are going to be right next to a store that is selling assault weapons – and people are going to be walking in and out of a range carrying their weapons?” said Elise Hauptman.  “That terrifies me.”

It’s easy enough to answer Hauptman’s question: the zoning laws should be changed because if they’re not the village is likely to be the subject of a lawsuit that it will lose. We’ve seen this same debate play out elsewhere, including in Chicago, and courts have taken a dim view of attempts to ban lawful businesses like firearms retailers or gun ranges through zoning restrictions.

Opponents of the store aren’t making an argument based on legalities, however. They’re making an emotional appeal to keep gun stores and ranges out of their community.

“The timing was obviously, just could not have been worse — given what our community; our neighbors have just gone through,” said Scott Bauer, a former school board member and longtime Long Grove resident. “To open up a gun range, literally within blocks and miles of dozens of schools, I think is completely irresponsible.”

Scott Bauer’s son, Brett Bauer, grew up in Long Grove but now lives in Washington, D.C. He launched a petition against the shooting range and gun store – and hopes his community will get involved.

“I just firmly believe that nobody, for any reason, needs an AR-15 or anything like an assault-style weapon on the streets – especially in a community like ours,” he said. “My roots are right there, so to me, this definitely impacts me directly and indirectly. The least we can do is look at how close this proposed location is to the nearest school. I mean, that’s like ridiculous to me.”

Bauer is entitled to his beliefs, but the residents of Long Grove are also entitled to their constitutionally-protected rights, and that includes the right to keep and bear arms that are in common use like AR-15s. They’re also entitled to exercise their right to acquire a firearm and to train with it, and if Long Grove seeks to deny those rights by ensuring that ranges and gun stores are prohibited then they can and should expect legal pushback; if not from Range USA itself then from 2A activists in the state.

I honestly hope that it doesn’t come to that and that cooler heads will prevail among the village’s board members, but given the push for new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms that we’re seeing in the Chicagoland area I’m doubtful that the village will do the right thing here… at least not unless a court compels them to do so. In the meantime, maybe the local Chicago media can ask Hauptman how she can claim to be a “gun safety” activist when she’s actively working to prevent law-abiding citizens from easily accessing hands-on training and classroom instruction on how to be a safe and responsible gun owner.