NIMBYs lash out at plans for Arkansas gun shop

NIMBYs lash out at plans for Arkansas gun shop
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Eureka Springs, Arkansas has long been a tourist destination, with the heated springs that gave the town its name a draw for well over a hundred years. The small town is full of hotels, bed and breakfasts, art galleries, and locally-owned retailers, but there is one thing missing: a gun shop.


Keeling Grubb wants to change that. The owner of Eureka Gun & Pawn isn’t actually selling firearms yet, but he’s hoping to do so in the near future. The problem for Keeling is that many of his neighbors are trying to stand in his way.

The very idea of a gun shop in what may be Arkansas’ most progressive burg has some people up in arms.

“A GUN shop? Absolutely no!!!” Marty Cogan wrote on a Facebook page called Eureka and Local Politics.

“A gun shop?!? Completely unacceptable!” responded Susan Wales Williams.

“Nothing says welcome to Eureka like a gun shop,” wrote Pat Matsukis.

In another post, Cogan wrote, “Does ES even need a ‘pawn shop’? I thought those were only in dodgy places or places like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, where tourists were outta cash. What’s next — rooms by the hour?”

In a telephone interview Friday, Cogan said many people are against the gun and pawn shop, but they may not be vocal about it.

“I believe there are a number of people in town who do not want the gun shop, but most people are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid the yahoos will come after them with their guns or throw rocks through their windows,” she said.


Oh, she believes that, does she? Sounds like Cogan doesn’t think that highly of any of her neighbors if she views most of them as either cowards or “yahoos” who’ll do a drive-by on someone’s home because they disagree with their opinion.

My guess is that the majority of the residents in Eureka Springs don’t care one way or the other about Grubb’s plans to open a gun shop, which he says will specialize in collector’s pieces and not “hundred-dollar guns”, but that doesn’t mean that Cogan is the only one letting her inner NIMBY run wild in opposition to his plans. The town’s planning commission deadlocked 3-3 on Grubb’s request for a conditional use permit last month, and now he’s planning on appealing to the full city council next week.

Three letters were read to the Planning Commission at its May 23 meeting — one for the gun shop and two against.

“Gun and pawn shops attract the type of people that need money and are likely to creep around homes and steal or break in,” wrote Anita Kimbrell. “Often these people are high on meth, or any street drug they can get.”

But Arthur Bruno, owner of Common Sense Technologies, sent a letter in support of the gun shop.

Bruno’s business is the closest neighbor to Eureka Gun & Pawn, he wrote in the letter. He has known Grubb for years and considers him a good neighbor who keeps his storefront clean.

“I like the idea that he is selling collector-grade firearms, which will naturally attract the quality of clientele I like to see in the plaza,” wrote Bruno, referring to the shopping center. “While I admit I was a bit hesitant at first having a store selling guns next to mine, I was fully reassured when I learned of his security measures and his plan for strict adherence to state and federal regulations and licenses.”


At least there are some residents in Eureka Springs willing to listen to Grubb without melting down over the thought of a gun store in town. On the local Facebook page, the boo-birds have been pointing out that there are other gun shops in nearby towns, so why does Eureka Springs need one of its own? Can’t residents just drive eight or twelve miles to another town if they want to purchase a firearm?

Well, no. That is to say, yes, that’s the only option available to them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that Eureka Springs can enact a de-facto ban on gun stores inside its own city limits. I don’t see how the town could ban gun stores outright without inviting a lawsuit, and keeping gun shops away by requiring specific approval that’s never given is going to be equally problematic. I’m glad to see that Grubb has hired an attorney who’ll be accompanying him to the city council meeting on June 12th and I’m hoping he’ll give council members a gentle reminder that the state’s firearm preemption law forbids localities like Eureka Springs from adopting any ordinance or regulation pertaining to (among other things) the transfer of a firearm. If the city is using its conditional permitting system to block any gun stores from operating within its borders, I’d say that’s ripe for a lawsuit. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but if Grubb wants to do business as an FFL in Eureka Springs he may have to fight City Hall as well as his NIMBY neighbors trying to keep the city gun store-free.



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