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Edwardsville council approves new gun business, but after extensive safety questioning

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EDWARDSVILLE, Kan. -- Several weeks have passed since the deadly shooting at She's A Pistol in Shawnee, Kan., but the effects of the tragedy are still being felt – this time by a new gun shop in Edwardsville.

City leaders there approved a business license for the shop, Gun Factory, on Monday, but only after the owners proved they were taking precautions to keep employees and customers safe.

“First thing they asked us was, ‘Well if four people approach your door, how are you going to keep them from coming into your business if it's open?’” recalled James Dearth, co-owner of Gun Factory.

Dearth said the city council was making an obvious reference to the recent deadly shooting during an attempted robbery at She's A Pistol.

“If there's a situation where there's a big group of people that came up to the door and they're wearing hooded shirts or masks, obviously, we're not going to let them in,” Dearth said. “We'll just let them stand out there, we'll call 911 and we'll let the police deal with it.”

Dearth said it's just one of many safety questions council members asked him and his business partner.

“The other concern was just, ‘What are you going to do to protect the guns, keep guns from getting out on the street?’” he said.

Dearth said city code requires businesses involving weapons or firearms to go before council for approval, so he went above and beyond when it comes to safety in his shop. He installed surveillance cameras, an electronic lock and buzzer system on his door, and multiple panic buttons.

“I understand that they had some questions and they wanted them answered,” he said.

The council eventually unanimously approved his business license, but Dearth said it was “unfortunate” councilmembers used She’s A Pistol as an example to weigh whether he should get to open up shop. He pointed out co-owner Becky Bieker explicitly said she didn't want to “turn this tragedy into a political statement.”

“She made it very, very clear that she did not want that situation to be used in a political light,” Dearth said, “and that's exactly what it got used for on Monday night.”

Fox 4 stopped by City Hall for comment, but by the time we got there, the office was already closed.

Dearth said he is ordering inventory and plans to open his shop by mid-February.