The Niles Village Board voted Tuesday to approve a gun shop and firing range over the objections of some residents who feel it is too close to a couple of schools.
Board members voted 4-1 in favor of the Sportsmen’s Club and Firearms Training Academy after the Niles Plan Commission voted earlier this month to recommend approval.
Opponents packed Tuesday's meeting for what's become a divisive issue in the community, presenting a petition with 1,000 signatures against the proposal.
The business is planned for the 6100 block of West Howard, close to Nile West High School and New Hope Academy.
Some trustees say the debate over the gun shop spun out of control.
"It all started about children's safety. And then the emails came, and it went from safety to threats," village trustee George Alpogianis said.
Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo previously told NBC 5 that the facility will mostly be used by police officers, and wants to pass an ordinance to hold people accountable if their guns get into the wrong hands.
"I don't think there's a winner or a loser in this. I trust that the gun shop owner will do the right thing and make sure all of the people who go there and who purchase firearms are qualified to do so," Przybylo said.
Some parents believe the business sends the wrong message because of the recent history of school shootings nationwide, but supporters include retired and current police officers as well as proponents for the Second Amendment.
"We've got 10-12 months of work to do before the facility is open, and throughout that time frame, essentially we'll have various open houses and open our doors to those who have doubts," gun shop owner Myles Cunningham said.