Councilman shoots down gun sales ordinance
BY DIANE KRIEGER SPIVAK
WINFIELD -- One town councilman Tuesday said he would sue the town himself if a proposed ordinance banning the sale of guns within town limits were passed.
Councilman Bill Brown called the proposed ordinance, presented at the Town Council meeting, "a joke."
"You'll have so many lawsuits, the National Rifle Association will be here and you'll be in court for a hundred years," Brown said. "This has got to be so unconstitutional it's ridiculous."
Brown's broadside came after Town Attorney George Patrick read the proposed ordinance, which would have banned not only the sale of firearms and ammunition by anyone, but also transferring ownership by gifting or any other manner.
"I'll file a lawsuit against the town," Brown said.
Patrick noted that the ordinance did not deal with zoning classifications through special uses or special exceptions by the Plan Commission, and the council decided to consider restricting gun sales through zoning rather than an all-out ban.
"I understand your concerns that it's a total ban," Patrick said.
Town officials have been pursuing a form of regulation on gun sales since they learned that developer David Lasco obtained a license to sell firearms from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms out of his clubhouse at DoubleTree Lake Estates West.
Brown said the issue arose because of Lasco. "You're going to punish the whole town because a few people don't like him," Brown said.
Winfield has no ordinances addressing gun sales.
"I have some concerns and reservations about a complete and total ban," Patrick said. "A number of municipalities have banned gun sales completely. Some have modified the way sales are transferred."
Council President Pete Rock said enforcing a total ban would be difficult.
"There's probably quite a few dealers in town dealing on the Internet and mail order," he said. "I think this is extremely prohibitive the way it is written now."
Patrick said a federal license is necessary to sell handguns.
"Some of those businesses will achieve the status of legal nonconforming use," he said.
William Bobey, who owns a nursery in Winfield, said he spoke to ATF representatives who said those seeking a license to sell firearms have to comply with federal statutes.
"It's not unknown to ban sales in a municipality," he said. "This is nothing new."
"If it's not on a list of acceptable businesses, it's not allowed," resident Bill Teach said.
Town Planner Marilyn Dartz said Winfield's list of acceptable businesses was very vague, but added that gun sales is not prohibited either.
"There is not such a use that's permitted," Dartz said. "It would require a special use by the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Town Council."
"You can't restrict somebody from applying for a permit or license," Patrick said. "That's an individual right. An all-out ban is going to get challenged."
Councilwoman Joyce Furto suggested clarifying the zoning ordinance with permitted uses for gun sales.