Western Springs and La Grange members of an anti-gun violence group are asking area businesses to post signs depicting No Guns Allowed.
A new state law allows residents to carry concealed weapons, pending approval of permit applications through the Illinois State Police. The first such permits are expected to be issued beginning March 1.
“I prefer to shop in places where I feel safe,” said Katherine Mudd, a Western Springs member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She has children, ages 7 and 9, and has been handing out postcards to area businesses.
“My safety and comfort level are compromised by concealed weapons in private businesses,” Mudd said.
Nicole Chen, also of Western Springs, agreed.
“If I see someone carrying a gun in public, in a store, how do I know if they have a permit or not?” Chen said. “Unless they paste their permit on their sleeve, it’s hard to tell a criminal from a law-abiding ‘good guy’ with a gun.”
Seeking ways to end gun violence, Chen met with like-minded parents in her living room following the Sandy Hook tragedy Dec. 14, 2012. Many parents are taking part in the Moms Demand Action campaign to raise awareness among businesses by passing out postcards.
On one side is a graphic of a handgun with a red circle and line running through it, which businesses may post to prohibit guns on their premises. On the card’s flip side is a message from the organization telling the sign’s importance from a shopper’s safety standpoint.
“We’ve already gone through 2,000 postcards, passed out by moms all over the state and the Chicago area doing their errands,” Chen said.
The postcard message is spreading through the group’s Facebook page, which has 3,500 followers, plus another 500 moms, dads and grandparents on an email list, she said.
Group members said the response to postcards has been positive, though noncommittal from area businesses. Chen said one business in Countryside has posted a sign.
Amy Decraene of Western Springs said she’s gotten a positive response to the postcards, particularly from cashiers.
“I will definitely avoid patronizing a store that refused to post the sign,” Decraene said. “I want to feel safe while I’m shopping.”
Chen said she was surprised by how many employees and some owners appeared unaware of the new law, as well as their reluctance to post a sign.
“Some businesses closely monitor the aesthetics and are not thrilled about putting up a sign with a gun on it,” she said. “Maybe they don’t want to offend anyone; it’s a political issue, and it evokes feelings.”
A few businesses part of a national chain are posting No Guns signs, such as Costco, CVS and Whole Foods, Chen said.
Nancy Cummings, executive director of the La Grange Business Association, said she’s had no feedback from members about posting signs.
Ken Grunke, executive director of the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce, said he also hasn’t heard from members based in La Grange, Countryside, Western Springs, Indian Head Park, LaGrange Park, Hodgkins, Willow Springs and McCook.
Other area chambers have expressed interest in running a joint event to address the concealed carry issue, as well as implications for medical marijuana use, Grunke said.