Small Business

Philly Votes to Regulate Bulletproof Glass in Corner Stores

A ban could be in effect by 2021.


Raymond Clarke Images/flickr

The Philadelphia City Council's Public Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill yesterday to regulate the use of bulletproof glass at food establishments. The original bill would have banned bulletproof glass outright, but that was changed following backlash from store owners, who said the glass was needed for their protection.

Democratic Councilwoman Cindy Bass, a primary sponsor of the bill, insisted these delis were the cause, not an effect, of trouble in her district.

"We want to make sure that there isn't this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a Plexiglas only in certain neighborhoods," Bass said.

Speaking from personal experience as a resident of Philadelphia, the presence of bulletproof glass correlates well with the places where the city already deploys more police officers and mobile units. Banning the glass won't improve safety; it'll just make shopkeepers less safe. The bill scapegoats small businesses that the council's constituents patronize.

Republican Councilman David Oh pointed out that if store owners were forced to remove the bulletproof glass, they would have an incentive to bring firearms to work instead.

"They're not changing their business model, they're not moving," Oh said, identifying a likely ulterior motive in hassling the businesses. "What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today."

As passed, the bill leaves the option open for city bureaucrats to ban bulletproof glass later. In the meantime, it imposes new regulations on stores that sell food and beer. It calls on the Department of Licenses and Inspections to promulgate new rules on the "use or removal of physical barriers" by January 1, 2021. It also requires the establishments to maintain a public bathroom that is accessible without walking through a food preparation or otherwise restricted area. (One complaint about "beer delis" is public urination outside, so this measure is intended to curtail that.)

The bill also creates a distinction between "large establishments" (with 30 or more seats) and "small establishments," creating new licenses for the latter. Supporters of the bill complained that the smaller establishments claim to be restaurants but only offer packaged foods and have fewer than the 30 seats they were up to now mandated to have.

It's not clear from the text of the ordinance when the rules will be begin to be enforced. The 2021 date applies only to regulations on physical barriers.

A bill in the state legislature would counteract the city ordinance: State Rep. Todd Stevens (R–Montgomery County) is pushing legislation that would prohibit municipalities from making certain "workplace safety" decisions. Bass has responded by saying if Stephens liked the stores so much, he should bring them to his constituents.

NEXT: State Lawmakers Dump Consumer-Friendly Booze Reforms for Liquor Store Protectionism

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  1. Bass has responded by saying if Stephens liked the stores so much, he should bring them to his constituents.

    What does that even mean

    1. What we are talking about here is indignity to black folks. If you are willing to be forthright, our country has a problem with only one race.

      My guess is that Cindy Bass has aspirations for higher office and wants to pose as the defender of racial dignity.

      1. Way to escalate, David Duke.

        1. I don’t think you HAVE to be a David Duke to suggest that a fair number of the Professionally Black are frauds and quislings.

          1. I’m referring to the “problem with only one race” line, which is coming from a commenter who once hysterically claimed that, direct quote, “diversity is white extinction.” It is certainly true that all racial grievance mongers, and identity politickers in general, are frauds who actively seek out chances to prevent basic human cooperation in order to further their own careers. ALWAYS RIGHT doesn’t have a problem with identity politics, however. ALWAYS RIGHT is all about identity politics that support his own racial identity.

            It’s sad when a person looks around and concludes that their own defining characteristic as a human being is the relative melanin content of their skin, but what can you do.

            1. I’m pretty sure that ALWAYS RIGHT is a lefty posing as a righty and is only racist “ironically.”

              1. These are the facts.

      2. Sounds perfectly plausible. Anyone want to try and shame into thinking otherwise?

      1. Is that a dog whistle or a gaslight?

        1. A little bit of both, ((())) is used a dog whistle for Jews on 4chan and many think casual Jew bashing is funny

    2. What does that even mean

      It’s either a Biblical reference to Moses and the Israelites, suggesting that if Stephens would rather free his people to get shot dead while they eat, he should lead them or “The jerk store called and they’re all out of Stephens!”

  2. It calls on the Department of Licenses and Inspections to promulgate new rules on the “use or removal of physical barriers” by January 1, 2021

    Whoa whoa whoa! What’s the rush?

  3. If you extend the logic, why should food establishments have door locks? Doesn’t this also affect the sensibilities of the local population?

    1. They should just leave the doors unlocked and the register open. People could come in at any time, select their items and pay on their way out. Employees would only be needed for cleaning and restocking.

      1. It is, after all, a dignity issue. To suppose that some persons are possibly less trustworthy than others….backed up by demographic studies, of course.

      2. It’s an affront to their dignity that some people have to do manual labor though. Customers should voluntarily clean and restock the place when it gets bad.

        1. What?! You are assuming the patrons of these establishments are dirty! Check your privilege.

  4. I trust that the city also banned police from wearing bulletproof vests in those neighborhoods.

    1. the vests are at least as “offensive” as the glass!

    2. Isn’t the police presence also an indignity? Just disband the department. Keeping a police department signals that you don’t trust your populace.

      1. That might actually help over time. You might get a Kowloon city situation, but it might still be better.

        1. I would certainly rather live in Kowloon circa 1980 than Philadelphia circa now.

          1. Philly is still a great city, despite the lunatics in government. Excellent food, bars, music, art, historic sites, and it had the good sense to give up being the capital of both PA and the United States, so at least there are fewer politicians and lawyers than there otherwise would be.

  5. I’m pretty dumb, so walk me through this: why ban bulletproof glass? Is it just a power trip? An accusation of racism because the restauranteurs don’t wanna get shot? Some sort of hatred of a bulletproof glass manufacturer? I just don’t get it.

    1. An accusation of racism because the restauranteurs don’t wanna get shot?

      It’s this one.

      1. Yes, it’s racist to assume that in areas where more people get shot and robbed, people are more likely to shoot at you.

        1. This is Councilwoman Bass’s position, yes.

          1. Victimized shopowners don’t truly need bulletproof glass. They can just just put their fingers in their ears and repeat the mantra:

            I’m all about that Bass, (’bout that Bass), no trouble.


    2. Because it hurts people’s feelings to have a stark reminder that they live in a high crime area that the city government cannot make safer.

    3. When I first heard this story, I assumed they want more campaign contribution cash from the store owners who don’t want to take down their bullet proof glass.

    4. why ban bulletproof glass?

      Assuming the question is legit/good faith, I don’t stand behind my answer but offer it in kind: Bulletproof glass is pretty easily distinguished from regular glass even at a distance or in passing and especially as it ages. It scuffs, scratches, fogs, and even yellows and crazes. It’s also more of a one-and-done proposition with regard to installation than glass. I can see how some people might consider it unsightly.

      1. It’s in a private business establishment, not out on the street! If customers find it unsightly, they can go to a different place.

        1. I used to travel with my daughters to visit family in various parts of the country; a real bonding experience. When we stopped for the night at a hotel and I found a bullet proof barrier between myself and the night clerk, I kept on going.

          1. Makes perfect sense.

        2. It’s in a private business establishment, not out on the street! If customers find it unsightly, they can go to a different place.

          Agreed. I’m not saying their should or shouldn’t be an ordinance about it, just saying that (as others below) given the choice between sitting, dining, and sleeping behind bullet-proof glass and conventional glass, I’d choose the latter and better circumstances even if only for aesthetics every time.

          Further, I don’t know all the details in the specific burrows/neighborhoods. As I said, bullet-proof glass will absorb bullets and continue to function as a window (and show it absorbed a few bullets). As a libertarian, I’d say it’s obvious that the shooter bears the burden or cost of repairing the bullet-riddled window. Foregoing the extreme optimism of catching every shooter all the time, IDK if the surrounding businesses should be compelled to chip in to replace any given window, the owner(s) of the shot up store(s) should be free to have bullet-riddled windows, or what the other solution(s) is(are).

      2. “I don’t stand behind my answer”

        I see what you did there

      3. Generally speaking, “bulletproof glass” isn’t actually glass, it’s just thick lexan. Tough as all get out, but not very scratch resistant.

        Blood splatters are unsightly, too.

        Back when I lived in rural Michigan, our local bank put up the lexan barriers, which was kind of inexplicable given that the local crime rate was a rounding error away from zero. Must have been corporate policy.

        A week later they tore it out again. Wish I’d known they were doing it, some dumpster diving would have been very profitable.

    5. It’s the same flawed oxymoronic concept that by depriving honest and law abiding citizens of their second amendment natural right of self defense, we’ll keep them safer!

      These store owners literally put their life in their hands everyday due to the crime ridden nature of the neighborhoods where they sell their food and goods.

    6. The real goal is to run Korean liquor store owners out of town. Urban blacks hate Koreans because they are successful (and not very good at hiding their disdain for their clientele).

      Presumably there are legal obstacles to Zimbabwe-style expropriation, so the idea is to accomplish the same thing by weaponizing regulation.

      1. I have been thinking of the movie “Standing Down” while reading through this thread, now that you more or less mention it.

        1. Falling Down with Michael Douglas, you mean?

          1. “One soda…eighty five cent…”
            “That doesn’t leave me enough for the phone call!!”

    7. I thought we had concluded that when answering the question “Why ban X?” the answer was always “Fuck you that’s why.”

    8. Yeah, why ban something that makes people safer? I thought that was one of the excuses for why we look the other way when governments steal from us.

      Are they going to ban bulletproof glass in banks? Because we have that in high end suburbs in California.

    9. Hoping for gentrification? Hipsters make better taxpayers?

    10. I think the lady was claiming that by making the inside of the deli bulletproof, and making the customers get their food through a slot in the glass that the deli was making the neighborhood more dangerous by making the customers indignant. Makes little sense to me. I guess the next to go will be cameras in the store which are also humiliating to customers.

  6. As a liberal-tarian who’s interested in gun violence prevention, I agree with Bass. Good for her for fighting against indignity.

    Instead of having neighborhoods plagued with guns, then putting up bulletproof glass as an imperfect safety measure, we should eliminate the bulletproof glass AND the guns. Perhaps some sort of gun buyback program could be established.

    1. Good luck with that buyback.

      1. Yeah, not even the government would buy back that unsightly glass!

    2. Buyback? You mean all things once belonged to the .gov and at any time they can force you to sell any item back to them – at a loss?

    3. Sure. I’ll buy their guns if they are any good.

      1. I love buyback days. I’ve gotten some fine firearms that way.

      2. They very seldom are; more likely an HR single barrel shotgun from 1960 something with a cracked stock and no C&R value.

    4. You’re going to need to find some funding outside tax dollars for that buyback if you’re going to keep even the shadow of ‘-tarian’ in that idea; won’t even address the idea of agreeing with Bass that state guns are the way to bring down the glass.


    5. OBLT: ?: Are you just here as a provocatuer, or are you truly the fucking idiot you appear to be? Just wondering.

      1. It’s trolling/performance art. I think intended to be skewering “cosmos”. I’m not too impressed.

        1. It’s sort of a useful filter. By looking at who responds to it, and how, you can determine whose comments should be regarded as potentially credulous and taken with extra grains of salt, and it’s not always who you’d think.

          1. *Notes Citizen X’s response – puts it in “database”*

            1. So OBLT is really just an agent provacateur that serves the purpose of seeing who responds and how, and then deciding if they are worthy? Damn, I fell for it.

          2. So how’d I do?

    6. YOU be lying…you a socialist.

      Bossing everyone around, controlling the means of production, and no gun rights are what you want.

    7. You are my favorite parody sock

    8. As the sunset of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban approached in 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Research Council did reviews of academical artcles of the sort that would pass the door of the Amercian Society of Criminology as working papers for serious discussion and/or be published in peer-reviewed journals under JEL subject classification K42 – impact of law on illegal behavior.

      National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council,
      “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review” (2004)
      Gun Buy-Backs

      Gun Buy-Backs

      Gun buy-back programs involve a government or private group paying individuals to turn in guns they possess. The programs do not require the participants to identify themselves, in order to encourage participation by offenders or those with weapons used in crimes. The guns are then destroyed. The theoretical premise for gun buy-back programs is that the program will lead to fewer guns on the streets because fewer guns are available for either theft or trade, and that consequently violence will decline. It is the committee’s view that the theory underlying gun buy-back programs is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs.

      The theory on which gun buy-back programs is based is flawed in three respects.


      1. \cont’d\
        First, the guns that are typically surrendered in gun buy-backs are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities. Typically, the guns turned in tend to be of two types: (1) old, malfunctioning guns whose resale value is less than the reward offered in buy-back programs or (2) guns owned by individuals who derive little value from the possession of the guns (e.g., those who have inherited guns). The Police Executive Research Forum (1996) found this in their analysis of the differences between weapons handed in and those used in crimes. In contrast, those who are either using guns to carry out crimes or as protection in the course of engaging in other illegal activities, such as drug selling, have actively acquired their guns and are unlikely to want to participate in such programs.

        Second, because replacement guns are relatively easily obtained, the actual decline in the number of guns on the street may be smaller than the number of guns that are turned in.


        1. \cont’d\
          Third, the likelihood that any particular gun will be used in a crime in a given year is low. In 1999, approximately 6,500 homicides were committed with handguns. There are approximately 70 million handguns in the United States. Thus, if a different handgun were used in each homicide, the likelihood that a particular handgun would be used to kill an individual in a particular year is 1 in 10,000. The typical gun buy-back program yields less than 1,000 guns. Even ignoring the first two points made above (the guns turned in are unlikely to be used by criminals and may be replaced by purchases of new guns), one would expect a reduction of less than one-tenth of one homicide per year in response to such a gun buy-back program. The program might be cost-effective if those were the correct parameters, but the small scale makes it highly unlikely that its effects would be detected.

          In light of the weakness in the theory underlying gun buy-backs, it is not surprising that research evaluations of U.S. efforts have consistently failed to document any link between such programs and reductions in gun violence (Callahan et al., 1994; Police Executive Research Forum, 1996; Rosenfeld, 1996).

          NB: In 2016 the likelihood that a particular handgun would be used to kill an individual in a particular year was 1 in 18,000.

          Gun Buy-backs are theatre not security.

  7. What a tragic and absurd piece of legislation! One has to wonder how people contort their brains to think that by removing physical protections for law abiding citizens in violent and dangerous neighborhoods, it will somehow make those neighborhoods more safe, in true oxymoronic fashion.

    I wonder what’s next? Maybe make cash registers illegal since they lock up the money in a box which is “offensive” as it implies someone might steal it and we know those neighbors are criminal free. Let’s make those “evil store and takeout owners” keep the money in piles on the counter! That will make those neighborhoods even safer!

    1. It’s all about feelings. People feeling that wealthy corner store shopkeepers don’t trust them trumps the shopkeepers’ feelings that they would rather not get shot for trying to eke out an honest living in a bad neighborhood.

    2. I truly hope that every business affected by this – ie when they are robbed/assaulted/murdered – sue Bass for everything she is worth. Or other less pleasant things. The Philly way.

  8. It’s offended sensibilities all the way down!

  9. “We want to make sure that there isn’t this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a Plexiglas only in certain neighborhoods”

    How about a statute requiring the “serving food through a Plexiglas” in all neighborhoods?

    Or maybe call it Kwanzaaglas.

    1. Kwanzaglass. I’m thinking that could be a new entry for the urban dictionary.

    2. Keep raising the minimum wage, and we’ll all be picking up our food from behind plexiglass doors, like in the old-style automats.

  10. Maybe it’s like the ban on body armor. The police want to be able to effectively shoot anyone at any time.

  11. Leftist stupidity knows no bounds. How can they be 180 degrees wrong on everything.

    Protecting yourself removes ‘dignity’ from others. So we should also ban bars on windows of houses too.

    You really have to be highly educated to be this dumb.

    1. Walking through D.C. earlier this year from a Metro station to a Nats game I noticed apartments which had special iron cages built around window unit air conditioners. It takes a pretty bold thief to steal an air conditioner right from someone’s window.

      1. I know there was an issue in several inner cities about them stealing the copper from the AC units, not the units themselves.

      2. If you have bars on your window, but have an opening for an AC unit, it’s pretty easy for a burglar to pull the AC unit out and crawl through the opening. Defeats the point of having the bars in the first place.

        1. That never occurred to me-I guess I am just not that devious.

          1. Most unit simply slide into the case and can pushed into the building from the outside.

  12. And what gives her the fucking right to say I can’t have bullet-proof glass in my establishment?

    Fuck Off, Slaver, would be the more appropriate response.

  13. Who is more racist:

    He who puts up bulletproof glass to protect themselves, or he who won’t allow a certain class of citizen protection?

    1. Your mind really has to be warped to think that protecting yourself from violence, death, etc, by putting up a bullet-proof window or arming yourself, should be banned because of “dignity”.

      So a person gets shot and killed and people like her don’t give a crap about that, or stopping that from happening. She is literally saying that her feelings are more important then someone’s life.

  14. I wonder if Philly police stations and other government offices have bullet proof glass in them? How about Bass’s own office? An enterprising journalist should go out to see if the city is engaging in this “this sort of indignity” and ask Bass why she’s not dealing with that first.

  15. How did this pass? How are a majority of people in the Philadelphia city council this stupid?

    1. How are a majority of people in the Philadelphia city council this stupid?

      Asked and answered, holmes.

  16. What is a few dead or beaten store clerks compared to a community’s dignity?!

  17. When I was a teller, I would float between different branches. The ones in the nicer side of town had an open floor plan with ‘pods’ and you could just walk up to them, really no security.

    At the sketchier parts of town, we had an actual teller line with a locked door to get back there.

    Our location in Oakland had our tellers behind bullet proof windows with a small opening for cash/checks/etc.


    So a normal person looks at that and says there must be a rational reason for the difference based on the circumstances. A leftist looks at that and screams inequality, you are making them feel bad by having the increased security and I demand you stop.

    Petty fascists.

  18. Wait, why hasn’t Fist posted? It is an article about Philidelphia. Oh god. I can only assume the worst.

    1. He got laid off from his job at the Plexiglas factory. It’s very sad. We’ll be taking up a collection for his kids later.

  19. “We want to make sure that there isn’t this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a Plexiglas only in certain neighborhoods,” Bass said.

    To be fair, I’d feel a lot safer putting up ballistic plexiglass between me and the locals in the Hipster Northeast and the Gayborhood too, so it’s not just a West Philly.

  20. God knows government offices are such open and welcoming locales.

  21. “Republican Councilman David Oh pointed out that if store owners were forced to remove the bulletproof glass, they would have an incentive to bring firearms to work instead.

    “They’re not changing their business model, they’re not moving,” Oh said, identifying a likely ulterior motive in hassling the businesses. “What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today.”

    Is he a RINO? I support BOTH, people buying guns and installing bulletproof glass.

    1. You will find yourself out of a job in big city East Coast politics if you even hint that it isn’t the worst thing ever when criminals get shot by civilians during the commission of crimes. More charitably to Oh, sometimes things do go wrong when guns are around, and that includes bad shoots by scared people who feel threatened for whatever reason.

  22. Maybe the deli’s can use the battleship New Jersey’s barbettes (2,100 ton structures w/armored blast doors between the magazines and turrets) across the river in Camden. That’s assuming they haven’t been already stolen.

  23. Ms. Bass gets to virtue signal on two levels: By banning bulletproof glass, she’s protecting the dignity of her constituents, and as soon as someone gets shot, she can call for more gun control.

    1. +1

  24. Well, they can still grab armfuls of beer, jerky, and candy bars and run for the door, but they won’t get the cigarettes, because those are in the glass cage with the teller.

    In the perfect world, fleeing shoplifters would slam into reinforced Lexan doors that lock shut when unpaid merchandise nears. Then the shoplifter automatically gets sprayed with the red meat juice from the floor of a butcher shop. Then vicious dogs get let out in the store.

    The meat spray is so that innocent customers in the store do not get harmed by the dogs. To compensate them for the trauma they witness, their items will be free.

  25. A window company in South Florida has publicized surveillance video of their products resisting attempts to break in by smashing the glass. In some the would be burglars get frustrated and simply leave. In others they get angry and keep at it.

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