The village of Lyons on Tuesday took a step toward keeping guns out of the wrong hands, approving an ordinance aimed at cracking down sales to straw purchasers.
The ordinance comes about three months after anti-violence activists filed a civil rights lawsuit demanding three suburbs do more to stop guns from reaching the streets of Chicago.
Straw purchasers have clean records that allow them to get an Illinois firearm owner’s identification card. With a FOID card, they can buy guns for people banned from owning them. They sign a federal form saying they’re the “actual” buyer when they really aren’t.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church, and the Rev. Robin Hood, a West Side pastor, along with other plaintiffs, filed the suit in July against the villages of Riverdale, Lyons and Lincolnwood. The suit claimed Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale, Midwest Sporting Goods in Lyons and Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood — along with Westforth Sports in Gary, Indiana — accounted for nearly 20 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013.
Lyons expects to be dropped from the suit since the ordinance fulfills many of the lawsuit’s demands.
The village’s ordinance will require Midwest Sporting Goods to undergo at least two random inspections by Lyons police and the Cook County Sheriff’s police. The store will have to pass an inspection for an anti-theft safety plan that will include exterior lighting, surveillance video cameras, alarm systems and the safe storage of weapons and ammunition.
It will also require the store to provide information on legal FOID cardholders who are denied purchase of a gun to Lyons police within 48 hours. And the shop’s employees must undergo background checks.
The store also must share with Lyons police any “trace” information about prospective illegal gun purchases it already is required to send to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Illinois State Police. The store must also maintain a “do not sell” list, and record all people who buy multiple guns within a 12-month period, according to the ordinance.
Lyons and the Cook County Sheriff’s police will work collectively in doing inspections and sharing documents. The store’s business license could also be pulled if there are more than two violations of regulations, the ordinance said.
“This is about being both practical and proactive in order to prevent the sale of guns to the wrong people,” Lyons President Chris Getty said in announcing the ordinance. “We stand firmly behind our partnership with our local gun shop owners and believe that by working together, positive changes can be made to ensure the safety of our communities.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Coalition for Safe Communities in Chicago, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday evening. Riverdale and Lincolnwood are still defendants in the pending case.