Gun Advocates Seek Restrictions on Anti-Gun Protests

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - A Second Amendment group is drafting federal legislation that would prevent anti-gun demonstrators from blocking access to gun stores.

The proposed legislation stems from recent protests at a suburban Chicago gun shop.

On Saturday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a Catholic priest, Michael Pfleger, were arrested and charged with trespassing for blocking the entrance to Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale.

In spite of their arrest, Jackson and Pfleger are planning more protests, including a June 29 prayer vigil outside the store.

Pfleger said they've targeted Chuck's Gun Shop because it sells "more guns...than any place else in the state." The store is near Chicago, where gun sales are banned, and Jackson says its proximity to the city provides gang members and criminals with easy access to firearms.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said its proposed bill is not an attack on the First Amendment.

"Nobody is saying Jackson can't protest a gun shop," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "We are, however, seeking the same protection from interference that is now guaranteed by federal statute to reproductive health services facilities."

CCRKBA Public Affairs Director John Snyder noted that it is illegal for pro-life activists to block access to abortion clinics, "and it should be just as illegal for anti-gunners to block access to gun shops," he said.

"This is neither a First or Second Amendment issue but rather a Fourteenth Amendment issue relating to equal protection," Snyder added.

Under CCRKBA's proposal, anyone who uses force, a threat of force, physical obstruction, intimidates or intentionally injures another person who is attempting to enter a gun shop, or who operates such a store, would be criminally liable.

CCRKBA spokesman Dave Workman told Cybercast News Service that ?a couple of congressmen ? were giving it a pretty good look? but added that he didn't know exactly which elected officials were interested in sponsoring the proposal.

Representatives for Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, three weeks ago, Pfleger told anti-gun activists that he would find gun shop owner John Riggio and "snuff him out."

"This proposal would provide protection to law-abiding firearms retailers and their customers nationwide," Gottlieb said.

"Chuck's is a legal business, operating under state and federal statutes. Jackson and his followers don't have to like it or agree with it, but under this proposal, they will have to accept the fact that a firearms dealer has as much right to operate a business as they have to shoot off their mouths."

Gottlieb said CCRKBA is now seeking congressional sponsors for the bill.

Jackson and Pfleger, meanwhile, have accused police of trying to intimidate them. Jackson told the Chicago Tribune that Jackson plans to expand his protests to other suburban gun stores and then to gun shows across the nation.

"I think people have the right to bear arms at a hunting reserve, but you're not hunting deer with semi-automatic weapons," Jackson told the Tribune. "We're going to keep protesting until America becomes more conscious of the domestic terrorism allowed by guns."

( Staff Writer Nathan Burchfiel contributed to this story.)

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