Death of an Illinois Gun Store

Townhall Media

Twelve years to the day after it opened for business, Bordertown Guns in Momence, Illinois closed down for good yesterday. Doug and Staci Duncan say business was good until the gun and magazine bans that are part of the Protect Illinois Communities Act took effect, which devastated their sales and led them to the heartbreaking decision to shut down the shop. 


The Duncans say the last day for the shop had a funeral-like atmosphere with hundreds of longtime customers stopping in to say goodbye, drop off food for the family, and encourage them to stay in the fight. Bordertown Guns didn't die from natural causes, after all. It was killed off by Illinois Democrats, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who've taken aim at lawful gun owners and retailers. 

"When he put the gun ban in, we lost over half our retail sales," Doug Duncan relayed. 

AR-15s and other "scary black rifles" aren't the only firearms now forbidden from sale in the state. PICA banned hundreds of models of rifles, shotguns, and pistols by make and model, and the Illinois State Police admits on its website that the list is not exhaustive; more firearms are likely to be prohibited based on their characteristics. Duncan pointed out, for instance, that many popular semi-automatic shotguns that are useful for older hunters who looking for a little less recoil and wear and tear to their shoulders are prohibited because of their pistol grip, while commonly-owned magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds for rifles or 15 rounds for handguns are similarly off-limits to their customers. 


The Duncan's launched Bordertown Guns on June 12, 2012, and managed to survive the increased red tape and security requirements mandated under the Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which Staci Duncan described as a simple money grab on the part of the state. She noted that it took two years for the Duncans to receive their state FFL license after they sent in their money and application... so long, in fact, that when it finally arrived it had already expired! When Staci called to complain about the delay she was told there was no recourse for the couple... but it was time for them to cut another check so they could renew their license. 

About half of the state's FFLs ended up giving up their license after the Illinois law took effect, many of them smaller and part-time gun sellers who found it unsustainable to continue without a large customer base. The Duncans took a hit, but thanks to Bordertown Guns' indoor firearm and archery range, they were still able to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Meanwhile, the Pritzker family is opening a gun range of its own in Wisconsin, outside the reach of Gov. Pritzker's anti-gun machinations. 

Bordertown guns was a fixture in the community, as is evident in the support that's been shown to them on their Facebook page. They donated guns to be raffled off by groups like Ducks Unlimited, held other gun raffles to support individuals in the community going through difficult times (including one family whose teenage daughter passed away unexpectedly), opened the doors of the shop to community groups that needed meeting space, and more. 


PICA, however, was devastating to their business. Doug Duncan described selling off property in southern Illinois and some of his stock from his former employer AT&T so they could keep their doors open, but this spring they finally reached the point of no return. At one point they had a buyer for the business lined up who even had the cash to pay 50% of the purchase from his own pocket, but in a sign of just how untenable it is to operate a gun shop and range in the state, the deal fell apart when the buyer couldn't find a bank willing to lend him the other half of the money. 

Now the Duncans are facing the prospect of filing for bankruptcy; both for the business and personally. Still, they haven't given up on their dream of being in the gun business. Doug and Staci both said they are hoping to build a new shop once they've dealt with the bankruptcies... though this time they'll be looking across the border in Indiana.

We'll be following their journey, and hopefully it doesn't take seven years or more for the Duncans to start their next chapter in the firearms industry. But there are also hundreds of other Illinois FFLs who are at risk of closing their doors just like Bordertown Guns, and some of them might not be able to hold until the Supreme Court steps in and shuts down these semi-auto bans and prohibitions on "large capacity" magazines. Irreparable harm is being done by the Protect Illinois Communities Act. It's destroying small businesses and, ironically, making communities like Momence less safe by taking away a location where real firearms safety and education were happening every day. 


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