Lincoln Park alderman encourages gun-free businesses

January 27, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Smith is asking local businesses to place no-gun signs in their windows to stop customers with newly legal concealed weapons from entering.

Even though concealed weapons are now legal with a state permit, businesses that don't want armed customers are able to post no-gun signs aimed at keeping them out. Near North Side Alderman Michele Smith is encouraging businesses in Lincoln Park to do just that. Smith wants only police to be armed, despite the new law that allows properly trained and registered citizens to carry.

A sign went up Monday at a Lincoln Park restaurant.

"A no-gun policy is good for the customers to know this is a safe, friendly place to have a meal. People come and feel safe and have a good meal and go home happy," said Hector Carlos, Los 3 Panchos.

An email alert Monday from Alderman Smith makes it clear.

"I encourage all business owners to make your business establishments gun-free" Smith said. "Our neighborhood and businesses will best prosper when everyone - business owners, customers, and residents alike - feels they can walk the streets and shops of the 43rd Ward safely."

But not all of Smith's constituents are buying it.

"I don't like the idea of even a picture of a gun on my door or window. I won't be putting it up," Geneva Currin, Halsted Flowers.

"I don't think signs help. If you carry a gun, you carry a gun. Of course, it's not like we have metal detectors or we're going to pat someone down or anything," said Vanessa De La Rosa, Mayan Palace.

The Illinois State Rifle Association that was heavy into the push for conceal/carry is livid about the Lincoln Park move. The group's president says he thinks it "is a big mistake for businesses to do this; for one thing, people who are legally carrying firearms won't patronize them. And it lets criminals know that if they want to rob the establishment, there will be no resistance."

In her letter, Alderman Smith even takes it a step further, seeming to encourage against residents of her ward from obtaining conceal and carry permits. "Even though there have been rare gun incidents in our ward, I strongly believe we will all feel safer if the police are the armed legal personnel in our ward."

Alderman Smith, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, was not available to do a TV interview for this report, according to her staff. A spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel says while he has not encouraged businesses to ban gun-carrying patrons, the mayor does support the law that allows them to do so.

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