CHICAGO (AP) — Firearms dealers near Chicago contemplated new business opportunities Tuesday following a federal judge’s ruling declaring the city’s ban on gun sales unconstitutional.
A day after U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang’s ruling, it wasn’t yet clear whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would continue to defend the ban with an appeal or switch to less-restrictive tactics such as limiting where gun shops locate.
Illinois in July became the nation’s last state to approve concealed carry of firearms and established the toughest training regimen. Gun shop owners said Tuesday city firearms sales, combined with the new concealed carry law, would bring down crime rates in Chicago as more law-abiding citizens train to carry guns.
“It’s a business opportunity in a great city,” Barry Soskin, who owns a suburban gun shop named Article II Range, said of the judge’s ruling. While he’s not sure if he would open a gun store in Chicago, he hopes someone does and he’s not worried about the competition.
“When was the last time you heard about a bar owner on Rush Street who was pissed off there was a bar next door?” he said. “Competition breeds business.”
But local restrictions could dampen enthusiasm for opening gun stores in Chicago, said Greg Tropino, owner of GAT Guns in East Dundee. In suburban Chicago, a $25 Cook County tax on gun purchases took effect last year. The tax has been challenged in court by gun shop owners, but it would apply to any gun shop that might open in Chicago.
“If you can’t make it illegal, you tax it to death,” Tropino said.
The intent of Chicago’s ban has been to reduce gun violence. The city led the nation in homicides in 2012 with more than 500, but in 2013 the city recorded the fewest killings since 1965 and saw its overall crime rate fall to level not seen since 1972.