The Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to remove bulletproof glass from the windows of some local businesses, despite a backlash from shop owners who cited safety concerns.
The council voted 14-3 to approve legislation that could eventually force business owners to remove the protective glass outside their storefronts that some lawmakers believe operate as drug fronts and facilitate loitering and public urination, Fox 29 reported.
The bill, which was passed by the city’s Public Health and Human Services Committee on Dec. 4, enables Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections to regulate the bullet-resistant barricades that stand between customers and cash registers in many neighborhood corner stores.
The approved bill, according to Philly.com, instructs the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to, by Jan. 1, 2021, “promulgate regulations to provide for the use or removal of any physical barrier” in stores that sell food and alcohol.
The approved bill “does not require mandatory removal” of the bulletproof glass, but rather a careful consideration, Councilwoman Helen Gym told Philly.com. The bill does, however, call for "tighter rules on seating, public restrooms and what can be sold at these stores," Fox 29 reported.
Storeowners on Thursday pleaded to keep the bulletproof barriers on their storefronts.
"I was the victim of a robbery when I was ten years old, and I don't want that to happen again,” one storeowner told Fox 29.
Another shopkeeper, through an interpreter, said: "If you took the bulletproof glass from our store, there will be more people die."
City councilman David Oh had similar sentiments, calling the possible outcome of the situation “worse … than what we have today.”
“If we take down the safety glass, they're not changing their business model. They're not moving. What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today,” Oh said ahead of Thursday’s vote.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who originally sponsored the bill, said the stores — many of which are delis — are “masquerading as restaurants.”
“They sell almost everything you need to get high, and if they don’t have it, someone loitering inside or outside, has the rest,” Bass said.
Bass told Fox News that the storeowners, who reportedly operate with restaurant licenses, in “more than 90 percent of cases they are breaking the law in terms of operating outside the requirement of their license.”
Fox News' Greg Norman and Frank Miles contributed to this report.