Chicago Suburb Sued By Activists Passes New Law to Curb Gun Sales to Criminals

The village of Lyons had been sued by a coalition of Chicago parents and others

One of three suburbs identified as a source of guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes has passed a new law to try to keep firearms away from criminals.

The village of Lyons, which was sued this summer by a coalition of parents and others over its regulation of gun shops within its borders, late Tuesday afternoon unanimously adopted policies based on recommendations in the lawsuit. As a result, the group is dropping the village from the lawsuit.

Mayor Christopher Getty, who said he was confident that the lawsuit would have been dismissed, said the new law was meant to prevent straw purchases, sales to legal buyers but on behalf of someone not legally able to buy a gun. 

"I just thought that if we were going to do it, let’s move forward," he said. "This is a big issue. Let’s be the first to come out and take a position on it and stand together as a village."

Lyons intends to work with the Cook County sheriff and others to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of criminals and being used in crimes, the village says.

The law tightens record-keeping requirements, calls for additional inspections, staff training and an anti-theft plan, and sets penalties for violations.

“We commend Lyons for doing the right thing here and we think that gun-violence prevention is an issue that today everybody needs to take responsibility for, to the extent that they can,” said Sean Morales-Doyle of of Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan, which is representing the coalition.

Lyons has only one gun shop, Midwest Guns. 

The village will also increase patrols by a uniformed police officer at the gun shop to scare off criminals, the mayor said. The gun shop welcomes the presence of an officer, he said.

"They don't want to be involved in anything that's illegal," he said.

The village's attorney, Burt Odelson, said Lyons was asking municipalities across Illinois to pass similar legislation so that law enforcement officials could know who was trying to buy multiple guns and who was passing them on to criminals.

"That's the only way this is all going to work," he said. "We're a start. We're going to try to get others to do it."

The lawsuit, filed over the summer in an attempt to stop the flow of guns into Chicago, continues against the other two villages, Riverdale and Lincolnwood.

It was brought against the villages themselves rather than the gun shops that Chicago officials say supply a disproportionate number of weapons recovered at crime scenes. The suit accuses the villages of discriminating against the city’s African-American residents by being lax in the regulation of gun dealers.

Cynthia Andrews

Based on the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, the lawsuit argues that the lives of African Americans in the most affected areas are endangered by the guns being sold in the villages. The villages’ policies have turned their neighborhoods into virtual war zones, while white neighborhoods are safe, their lawyers argue. The illegal trafficking of guns keeps residents isolated and fearful, and depresses the value of their homes.

The three gun shops in the Chicago suburbs — Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale and Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood in addition to Midwest Guns — and another in Gary, Indiana, supplied nearly 20 percent of guns found at Chicago crime scenes, amounting to thousands of guns. The stores are all within a short drive of Chicago. Because the lawsuit invoked an Illinois state law, Gary was not included. 

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