Chicago suburb votes to ban sales of "assault weapons"

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A local gun store owner calls the move “political theater,” and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Naperville’s new ban on the sale of modern sporting rifles and many “large capacity” magazines seems designed to send a message to lawmakers in Springfield more than a serious attempt to prevent violent criminals from getting their hands on a gun, but it’s still likely to have real world implications for gun stores in the city. Robert Bevis owns Law Weapons and Supply, and despite the fact that the new ban exempts law enforcement and the military for some reason, Bevis says the new ordinance is likely going to put him out of business.

Faced with that possibility, he said he’ll exhaust every legal option to keep it viable, including seeking an injunction on the ordinance.
Beyond his legal avenues, Bevis is making his opinion clear on the motives behind the proposed ordinance.
“They know it’s not going to reduce any crime or stop one person from getting a gun or stop anyone from coming into Naperville to commit a crime,” he said. “Criminals don’t buy guns from shops like ours.
“It is absolutely political theater.”
But last month, Councilman Ian Holzhauer said it was his duty to act on an ordinance like this.
“As an elected official, I can do something,” he said. “It might be something small, but I can do something to help keep our community safe and stand for our community values.”
How exactly is this ordinance going to keep Naperville safe? Not only are rifles of any kind not used in many violent crimes, the AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles that Naperville has banned are perfectly legal under state and federal law, and I’d argue are found in every nearby gun store outside of the Naperville city limits. This new ordinance won’t prevent anyone from actually purchasing a modern sporting rifle, it’ll just make them drive a little further to get one. It’s not a stretch to say that the new measure will have more of an impact on the city’s carbon footprint than on preventing violent crime.
I’m sure Naperville would have imposed a ban on the possession of modern sporting rifles as well, but one of the provisions in the state’s FOID Card Act prohibits localities from regulating the “possession or ownership” of so-called assault weapons. That should make for an interesting court challenge if Bevis does seek an injunction blocking the new ordinance from taking effect. While the new ordinance specifically prohibits the sale of these firearms, I’d argue that by doing so it also seeks to regulate the ownership of them by making it impossible to legally take possession of a rifle inside the city limits.
The 8-1 vote in favor of the new ordinance came after hours of debate that stretched from Tuesday evening until the early morning hours today, and I’m glad to see that there were so many gun owners who turned out to express their opposition, even if city council members largely ignored what they had to say. Hopefully Bevis makes good on his threat to sue the town over its new ban on the sale of so-called assault weapons, though he’s also talked about setting up a new store outside the city limits. With Democrats in Springfield eyeing up a statewide ban, I don’t think relocating is going to solve Bevis’s problem… unless he’s prepared to flee the state and open a new store in a place that recognizes and respects the right to keep and bear arms.