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More questions about DeKalb County 'gun club' rule changes

Burt Johnson of South Grove Township asks a question about the effects of a "gun club" rule changeson private firearms instructors during a public hearing Thursday in the DeKalb County Legislative Center in Sycamore.
Burt Johnson of South Grove Township asks a question about the effects of a "gun club" rule changeson private firearms instructors during a public hearing Thursday in the DeKalb County Legislative Center in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – Several dozen people gathered again Thursday night to discuss several proposed changes to rules regarding gun clubs and solar farms.

The hearing, held at 6:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Legislative Center’s Gathertorium, 200 N. Main St., in Sycamore, was continued from a previous meeting held Jan. 31.

The DeKalb County Board is considering three proposed changes to the County Code and Zoning Ordinance, including revising regulations on the heights of accessory structures, clarifying the definition of a “gun club” and allowing for regulating solar panel arrays.

Community Development Director Derek Hiland began by reading the amended version of the county’s proposal.

“[Gun club] shall mean a commercial use wherein one or more of the following activities occur: gun, rifle, and pistol clubs; gun and firing ranges; target shooting; trap; skeet; and/or, firearm training classes,” it states. “Excluded from this type of use shall be general hunting, the noncommercial discharging of firearms, and noncommercial gun and firing ranges.”

Hiland stressed the importance of commercial use in the definition, as there was confusion about if gun owners’ personal use would be included in the change.

County residents voiced new concerns at Thursday night’s meeting – no one spoke in favor of the amendment, and most wanted more clarification on the text’s language and why the change was coming about at all.

“Please exclude concealed carry trainers from your proposed ordinance – Illinois is already the most expensive state in the nation to obtain a concealed carry license,” Burt Johnson who lives west of Sycamore said on behalf of his neighbor Dan Shepard. “[The ordinance] will do nothing for public benefit [and] only add more hurdles and expense.”

Johnson also wanted to know if trainers would need to make facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Doug Massier, of DeKalb, also is a concealed carry instructor. He was frustrated with the proposal’s timing.

“I’m just curious why,” Massier said. “Why, all of a sudden after three years of doing this, the county feels they have to regulate it. Can anybody answer that for me?”

Hiland previously said the amendment was meant to be more of a clarification of county code than a new approach to regulations.

Sycamore resident Bill Penrod worried about how the ordinance might affect nonprofit organizations, and Genoa resident Dan Taylor recommended the county consider organizations be considered commercial based on a percentage of how they are used for profit.

“If we’re going to be required a special use permit, depending on the price, it’s going to prohibit me from offering classes that are required by the state of Illinois,” Taylor said.

Taylor also is a concealed carry instructor.

One individual reflected on Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school. Chris Porterfield, of DeKalb, said the county should have policies and procedures in place to monitor gun clubs.

“Will the county do anything about insisting on policies and procedures to check FOID cards, have limitations on the types of weapons used onsite and, given what happened yesterday and what’s happened many times in our country, assess the state of mind of people using the ranges?” Porterfield said.

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