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Downers Grove group calls for greater security measures for home-based gun sales

DOWNERS GROVE – Five Downers Grove residents or business owners hold federal firearms licenses, a fact that has raised concerns for members of the Downers Grove Marchers gun safety committee.

The committee's mission is to advocate for legislation that will bring common sense gun safety to the community and implement educational programs focused on gun sales, usage and storage.

The committee members are adamant they are not opposed to residents or businesses holding federal firearms licenses but believe the village of Downers Grove should enact stricter security requirements for those who hold the licenses.

“We don’t want to wipe out FFLs,” said Amy Vogt, a member of the committee.

A federal firearms license is a license that enables an individual or company to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture or importation of firearms and ammunition or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms.

The licenses are issued and regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Residents or businesses who possess a license are required to provide a copy of their license application to the chief of police, said Doug Kozlowski, the village’s communications director.

Residents who hold licenses are considered a home-based business, which is permitted in Downers Grove, he said.

"We're not pushing for [federal firearms licenses] to all go away," committee member Deborah Anderson-Phillips said. "That will only get a lot of people yelling at one another."

Instead, the group is calling on the village to require license holders to have surveillance cameras and alarm systems that are tied into the Downers Grove Police Department.

Committee members believe the increased security is warranted to prevent robberies at homes or businesses where weapons are stored.

The committee also is striving to educate the community.

"Regular people in the community don't know guns can be sold from a home," said Anderson-Phillips, who learned about the licenses after participating in a gun violence forum at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove. "We knew nothing about the home FFLs."

One Downers Grove resident who holds a license lives within 400 feet of a Downers Grove Grade School District 58 elementary school, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' federal firearms license database.

The group plans to make a presentation to the Downers Grove Village Council and raise the issue at an upcoming meeting of the District 58 Board of Education.

Members have met on two occasions with village commissioners Greg Hose and Bill White.

"I had no idea there were any in town," Hose said of the license holders. "It concerns me from a safety perspective. We have to be cognizant of that sort of thing. Increased security should be required. I would like to see that."

However, he was doubtful a push for greater security measures would garner support from the Village Council, especially with an election ahead in April 2019.

"Hopefully, [the issue] will be something the candidates have to discuss," Anderson-Phillips said.

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