Democrat lawmaker proposes bill forcing Chicago grocery stores, gas stations to hire armed guards


Illinois pushes ‘ludicrous bill’ forcing businesses to pay for protection: Happy Foods owner Barbara Eastman

FOX Business’ Jeff Flock reports from Chicago, Illinois, where state legislation may force local businesses to pay for their own security.

An Illinois Democrat has introduced a new bill that would require business owners in Chicago to pay for their own security. 

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D) introduced the Armed Security Protection Act in January. If passed, establishments like banks, gas stations, grocery stores, and pawn shops would be forced to employ at least one-armed guard to protect the business during operating hours starting in July. 

"They're not thinking. It's a ludicrous bill," Happy Foods store owner Barbara Eastman told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock in Chicago Monday. "First of all, for the liability of having an armed guard in here."


"Do you need an armed guard here?" Flock quickly asked on the "Mornings with Maria" appearance, with Eastman replying: "Not at all."

"There's neighborhoods that are very safe. This is a very safe neighborhood, and there’s others [in Chicago]," Eastman added.

The cost for small businesses to employ armed guards would be “huge,” Happy Foods owner Barbara Eastman said on “Mornings with Maria” Monday. (Getty Images)

Throughout 2022, violent crime in Chicago spiked 35% compared to the year prior. According to the Chicago Police Department, the city has a higher homicide rate per capita than New York and Los Angeles, and the number of annual homicides hit a 25-year-high in 2021 with 797.

Business owners like Eastman called out soft-on-crime policies while noting she wants to see perpetrators stay behind bars.

"I think you should arrest the people that are doing it and put them in jail. Just incarcerate them," she said.


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Eastman continued to argue that the cost of employing a full-time security guard would be "huge," and expressed fears her business couldn’t afford it.

"Every week the prices go up, some go down, but most of them are going up," the Happy Foods owner said. "The regulations are not necessary on this."

Another Chicago business leader previously told Fox News Digital that crime forced him and his operations out of the state last year. Gary Rabine, founder of the Rabine Group and owner of 13 businesses, claimed his decision to pull his road paving company out of the city came after his crews were repeatedly robbed, sometimes in broad daylight, even after adding security to the jobs.

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Chicago Police Department personnel on scene of an unspecified crime in this undated photo. | Getty Images

"We would do thousands of jobs a year in the city, but as we got robbed more, my people operating rollers and pavers, we got robbed, our equipment would get stolen in broad daylight and there would usually be a gun involved, and it got expensive and it got dangerous," Rabine said.



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Rabine added that the additional cost of security and insurance for the "thousands" of jobs in the city each year eventually caused jobs to cost "twice as much as they should be." Rabine explained that the higher costs ultimately hurt the ratepayers, many of them with modest financial means, who ended up paying more for utility services.

The Illinois legislation is set to expire on June 30, 2027, according to the General Assembly database.


Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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