Getty details plan to block gun abuse at NY conference
By Steve Metsch
Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty was pleased by the reaction received when he spoke at a New York City gathering of similar communities who have tackled illegal gun sales.
Getty had been invited to participate and spoke to a large gathering in Midtown Manhattan on Sept. 25.
The mayor discussed his speaking engagement at the Sept. 28 meeting of the Lyons-McCook Business Association in a police department meeting room at the Lyons Village Hall.
Getty had been invited to New York City to discuss how the village was able to hammer out an agreement with a gun shop in Lyons that allowed it and Lyons police and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to do a better job of keeping track of gun sales, especially those “straw sales” that are done illegally to provide firearms to someone not buying the gun.
“It was a fantastic experience. I was really impressed,” Getty said of his visit.
“A group called Every Town For Gun Safety noticed what we had done in Lyons, the legislations we had passed. They presented the paper to this organization, Data For Good Exchange, that hosted this event,” Getty said.
He spoke after the chief technology officers of the White House and the Bloomberg organization.
“So, essentially, what we passed in Lyons. We were approached by the Chicago police department and the mayor’s office of Chicago that presented us with data about firearms that had been purchased legally in the village of Lyons, and then ended up in the hands of criminals in the city of Chicago. They came to us and wanted us to put restrictions on the gun shop,” Getty recalled.
However, with Midwest Sporting Goods having been a solid business in Lyons for more than 50 years, Getty was reluctant to shut down the longtime family-owned business.
“We essentially started the conversation roughly two and a half, three years ago. We brought them to the table with the Chicago police and the mayor’s office. There was a heated discussion, but, after multiple meetings, we started to make progress. The number one thing we learned was about how they were purchased legally and wound up in the hands of criminals. That is a ‘straw purchaser,’ someone who is buying a gun legally, and then giving it or selling it to someone else,” Getty said.
With help from the Lyons police, and county sheriff and the gun shop, a plan was hammered out designed to prevent such purchases from happening.
“We put in an ordinance that gives the gun shop the ability to refuse sale to anybody for any reason. It’s their right to refuse a sale. So we encouraged them to do that, to document why they did and get that information to the village. And we pass that information on to the Cook County Sheriff, who can share information with other gun shops,” Getty said.
The village had been sued in a lawsuit seeking closure of the gun shop, but was removed from the suit after making those changes. Lyons has since won national acclaim for its efforts.
“I highlighted in this speaking engagement, the whole process and the reason it all originated was because of the data. Myself and the village board passed the legislation, made a stand and worked with the gun shop,” Getty said.
Knowing that information will be shared with the police may make someone “think twice” about making a straw purchase, he said.
“It was a very rewarding experience for me (speaking at the event) in New York) and I thought I was able to highlight the village of Lyons in a very positive way, that we are a proactive community and one that can take a stand and run with it,” Getty said.
The ordinance was passed by the village board in October of 2015.
Getty recalled how Noel Incavo, the late owner of the gun shop, was at first “passionate” against talking with Chicago but came around to “starting up and leading the discussions.” After he passed away, his children, who run the shop, took note, followed his lead and were willing to work on solutions, Getty said.
Getty was one of several people from seven communities who were invited to speak about data-driving approaches to reducing gun violence, Every Town spokesman Adam Sege said.
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