Little consensus in south suburbs as communities contemplate firearms restrictions

2013-07-19T14:22:00Z 2013-07-19T23:31:09Z Little consensus in south suburbs as communities contemplate firearms restrictionsGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
July 19, 2013 2:22 pm  • 

The time for local governments to consider ordinances imposing strict regulations against assault weapons has passed, but the idea of imposing local laws more strict than the state was not universal.

Some rushed to approve new rules, while others decided to hold off. In Calumet City, 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones spoke last week about the need to approve stricter laws against assault weapons use.

A special City Council meeting required to take such action was never scheduled this week.

Tom Mannix, a spokesman for Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, said officials found already existing Calumet City firearm ordinances from the 1980s are strict enough and more municipal action was not required.

He also said many of the municipalities across the Chicago area that took action on the issue adopted “shell ordinances,” meaning they are not specific and can be amended as deemed necessary.

“They wanted to get something on their books before it became impossible for them to do anything,” Mannix said.

When the Illinois General Assembly rejected Gov. Pat Quinn’s attempt to create stricter gun laws, it gave larger local governments the option of imposing their own more stringent rules provided they act within 10 days.

That time period ended Friday.

In Dolton, the Village Board held a special meeting Thursaday and voted 4-1 in favor of a measure that details specific weapons that are no longer legal within municipal boundaries. Trustee Cathern Bendell was the lone opponent of the measure.

Village officials in Homewood also approved an assault weapons ban, although they rushed to take their vote July 9, the same date the General Assembly acted.

But the issue is not universal. Homewood’s neighboring community of Flossmoor considered an assault weapons ban, and voted to reject it, as did officials in Thornton and Steger, according to the National Rifle Association.

The group monitored the issue and said most suburban communities decided to accept state law, rather than impose their own restrictions

In communities such as University Park, the Village Board decided to approve laws concerning the storage of firearms within a home, but not actual restrictions on what those firearms could be.

“We decided to focus on storage,” Village President Vivian Covington said. The University Park ordinance requires people to use trigger locks on their firearms, and to keep ammunition stored separately.

The Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board adopted assault weapons bans this week, detailing dozens of types of firearms no longer legal for local residents to own even with a Firearm Owners Identification card.

The Cook County ordinance applies to all 129 municipalities in the county, except for those that have even stricter laws.

Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, said he is convinced all of these attempts at assault weapons bans will be challenged in court.

Vandermyde said he thinks local governments that passed this issue are trying to exceed their authority.

“The Legislature, when they acted, took this ability out of (local government) hands,” he said. “This kind of regulation is exclusively a function of the state.”

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