BELLINGHAM — New stores cannot sell guns within 500 feet of public or private schools, after the council approved a new ban on Monday.

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BELLINGHAM — New stores cannot sell guns within 500 feet of public or private schools, after the council approved a new ban on Monday.

The council voted 6-0, with council member Gene Knutson absent, to approve a new law banning sales near public or private primary and secondary schools.

The law is aimed at keeping children safe and preventing costly and time-consuming false-alarm lockdowns of schools when people with guns are spotted nearby, council policy analyst Mark Gardner said. The city currently has eight licensed gun dealers, and they would be “grandfathered” and could continue selling guns if they were within 500 feet of a school.

The final law differs from an earlier proposal in two ways:

• It allows the sale of guns near colleges and day cares. A previous version of the law would have banned sales near the city’s four colleges and 50 day cares, but city attorneys recommended against that over fears that it goes further than state law allows and wouldn’t be worth the legal risk. State law allows cities to ban the sale of guns within 500 feet of “primary and secondary school grounds.”

• It “grandfathers” in businesses that have applied to the federal government to sell guns. That’s the case with Yeager’s Sporting Goods, which is near St. Paul’s Academy on Northwest Avenue. The business lost its license to sell guns in 2006 but has reapplied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to sell them. The company owner and manager wrote a letter to the city threatening to sue and disallow the police department use of their facilities for training if the law as previously drafted had passed.

The issue first came up last year, when Checkmate Pawn applied to build a new location near Shuksan Middle School, the city planning department tried to ban the sale of guns there and the business owner appealed and won in front of the city’s hearing examiner. The project has since been abandoned.

City Council member Jack Weiss said he doubted the new law would have much impact.

“In reality, most of these schools are in residential areas,” he said, “so firearms stores would not be able to locate next to them anyway.”