Local gun shops struggle after Pritzker’s assault weapons ban

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Photo of a rifle(WIFR)
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:04 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:18 PM CST
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ROSCOE, Ill. (WIFR) - More than two weeks since Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the state‘s ban on assault weapons, the debate is far from over.

From assault weapons to large capacity magazines, gun shop owners say they used to sell out of their weapons but now a lot of them collect dust on their shelves.

“It’s hurt. We have, I don’t know if I had to guess. 70 or 80% of our inventory is now not sellable in the state of Illinois,” said Brad Miller who works at Flashpoint Firearms in Roscoe.

Miller is well known in the world of guns in the Stateline and says his business was thriving a few years ago. Now it’s tough for him to get rid of his inventory.

“I don’t think the politicians downstate have thought about that it’s going to affect the small guys like us. We’re a small family-owned run shop and it’s hurting us bad,” he said.

Not only are sales down, but his customers reduced to only regulars. Which he says is not enough, even with some of his customers being out of state.

“We can still sell to Wisconsin residents and then transfer them to an FFL, Federal Firearm License dealer, in Wisconsin and then it changes things for that customer, but Illinois residents, we have to do it the way we’re doing it now,” said Miller.

He says his frustration stems from a lack of knowledge. He doesn’t feel people are educated on the differences between a rifle and an assault weapon. Which he feels carriers over to politicians who also never took the time to learn more about them.

“Criminals are criminals. They are not going to abide by any laws,” expressed Miller who believed the person behind the gun is the one to blame.

Firearm trainers have seen the opposite effect though, and some even say since the pandemic they have seen a 200% increase in people wanting to learn more about guns.

“People see rights getting taken away or things not the way they used to be essentially, and it will actually drive customer base,” said Jared Smith who owns DMEC Firearms Training in Pecatonica, Illinois.

Miller says gun shops need to be better at sniffing out suspicious people and maybe then fewer guns would fall into the hands of criminals.

Smith says, the state needs to enforce laws already in the books and stop introducing new laws that only hurt law abiding citizens.