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Eden Prairie leader presses gun shops to voluntarily restrict sales

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Arnzen Arms gun store owner Dan Arnzen
Arnzen Arms gun store owner Dan Arnzen says he has no intention of complying with the city's sales requests if the resolution passes.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Eden Prairie leaders know they can't stop gun sales, but one council member wants the city to formally ask gun sellers to stop selling military-style assault weapons and prohibit firearms sales to anyone younger than 21.

Council Member Ron Case said gun control became an issue after the City Council approved a major expansion of the Scheels sporting goods store at Eden Prairie Center. City officials welcomed the development, he said, but some residents expressed concern that the new store would include gun sales at the mall. 

Outside of basic zoning decisions, there isn't much a city can do. So, Case hopes a formal appeal to gun shops will get them to curb sales voluntarily. 

Eden Prairie city council member Ron Case.
Eden Prairie City Council Member Ron Case.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

"If communities across the nation begin to stand up and speak up for what we believe in and for the public safety of our own residents, I think that's maybe the way change has to happen because it's not happening at a national level," he said. "It's very difficult, you can look at states around the country, it's not happening on a state level."

Case is expected to raise the issue at a Tuesday night meeting. Residents, however, are split on the idea.

Dan Arnzen, who owns the gun store Arnzen Arms in Eden Prairie, said he's been hearing a lot of push back from customers who don't think the city has any business trying to convince him to change his gun sales policies. "We sell everything that's legal for us to sell."

Military-style assault weapons, he said, account for about 10 percent of his sales. 

Arnzen said he has no intention of complying with the city's sales requests if the resolution passes. "I don't want to give an inch on it really. If they do pass it and I get the letter, I will certainly tell every Eden Prairie resident that comes in here the names of the people that voted for it."

Resident Peggy Cabot, though, said she'd welcome the city weighing in even though it has no regulatory authority. She also believes that if more cities acted in the same vein, state lawmakers would take notice and might change the law. Several gun measures stalled at the Capitol during this year's session.

"I think if the see enough cities doing it they would know there's enough population behind that," she said.

Case said he's not sure what will come of his proposal.

"I'm the first to admit it's symbolic and, yes, it would maybe make a few, including me, feel a little bit better," he said. "But I don't want to just feel better. I want to actually have that opportunity to make a substantive difference."