(The Center Square) – A firearm range operator in Illinois says if the industry doesn’t get clarity on whether it can open, he's preparing to sue.

Eric Callis, president of Aurora Sportsmen’s Club in Waterman, said he was told by state officials his operations couldn’t continue because there’s no firearms retail component. They’ve been closed to members since April 10 and their website has events scheduled for May 2.

Callis contends his operations are essential for exercising Second Amendment rights and is confused with other things reportedly being given consideration to reopen.

“He’s going to loosen up some restrictions on some businesses including pet groomers and golf courses, which in our opinion do not have the protected status that we should be afforded,” Callis said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker couldn’t provide clarity Wednesday.

“It’s not something I’ve honestly paid close attention to now,” Pritkzer said. “Now that you’ve raised it, I’ll certainly look into it.”

As of Thursday morning, the governor’s modified stay-at-home orders expected to last through the end of May have not been filed.

Pritzker said he's looking to federal guidelines for what’s considered essential.

“Remember, we’re trying to focus on essential businesses,” Pritzker said. “And we’ve tried to follow the Department of Homeland Security list of essential businesses.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security does say, “Workers supporting the operation of firearm, or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” are essential, but a draft of Pritzker’s order does not include “shooting ranges.”

If he’s kept from operating, Callis said he’s in talks with attorneys to take action as the state has indicated to him only ranges with retail components can operate.

“Ranges like ours, and there are a number of them in the state, who don’t have a retail presence are not and we’re also concerned that that could be a 14th Amendment equal protection issue,” Callis said. “So, you’re now kind of picking out winners and losers.”

Callis sent Pritzker a letter earlier this week to that effect. He also sent U.S. Attorney General William Barr a letter requesting a review of Pritzker’s orders.

“We find it troubling that there appears to be a political double standard for outdoor recreational activities that are not protected by the Constitution with enumerated rights but may be more politically correct,” Callis wrote. “We also find it inexplicable that drugs still considered to be illegal for sale and possession under Federal law are allowed to be sold, used, and shops that sell marijuana are open for business while actual legal conduct and constitutionally protected activities are being denied.

“We appreciate your help in this matter and look forward to hearing from either your office or your representative,” Callis wrote Barr.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.