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Council pulls the trigger on gun shop

Halifax Town Council approved a request by Kenneth Hawks to locate a gun shop in the downtown shopping district following a joint public hearing Tuesday night with the town’s planning commission.

Hawks was the lone speaker during the public hearing, although Town Manager Carl Espy said town resident Barbara Cage of Mountain Road had called to voice her opposition to the gun shop.

Hawks said he would have a security system installed in the building, which is owned by Frank Booker III, and he said he currently holds a Federal Firearms License and is approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Phil Hammond, vice-chairman of the planning commission, proposed a motion to the commission to recommend approval of Hawks’ request to council, with Commissioner Jerry Epps providing the second. The commissioners unanimously approved Hammond’s motion, with Chairman Evelyn Allocco and Commissioner Tim Moore absent.

Hammond, who also sits on town council, expressed concern that Hawks would install bars on the building’s windows for safety.

Hawks reassured council that a safety system would be installed in the whole building. He also said handguns would be locked in a display case, and rifles and shotguns would be secured at night with a cable or chain through their trigger guards and secured by a lock.

Councilman Jack Dunavant expressed concern about handguns being left in a display case when the store would be closed, even with a security system in place. Hammond agreed, recommending a cage be erected around the handgun sales area. Hawks said he would construct the display case using plexiglass rather than regular glass.

After further discussion, council recommended Hawks acquire a safe to house the handguns at night and other times when the store is closed. Hawks said he would comply with council’s wish and secure a safe in which to place handguns.

Councilman Dunavant proposed a motion to amend the town’s ordinance to include a gun shop with the provision that handguns be locked in a safe at night, and rifles and shotguns be secured with a cable or chain through the trigger guards. Councilman Hammond provided the second, and council unanimously approved the motion on a roll call vote, with Councilman Tommy Reagan absent due to illness.

Espy said the term “gun shop” would be placed in the zoning ordinance with a special use permit.