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Residents, Aldermen Resist Assault Weapon Regulations

Lake Forest residents and aldermen discussed regulating assault weapons at its meeting on Monday before tabling the subject for July 15.

"Placeholder" was the keyword among aldermen when discussing the regulation of assault weapons at Lake Forest's City Council meeting on Monday night.

As the City Council discussed options for regulating assault weapons, a less is more approach held sway. The City Council seemed interested in preserving the city's home rule ability to regulate assault weapons with as light a touch as possible.

"We're either going to do nothing or pass a placeholder," said Alderman David Moore. "I think we should give it a deeper look."

After discussing the subject, hearing a presentation from Rep. Scott Drury and then listening to public comment from residents, the City Council ultimately decided to table the discussion until its July 15 meeting.

"When we come back on the 15th this law might have changed entirely," Alderman Kent E. Novit said. "Maybe we should wait to see what the state does."
Lake Forest is one of a growing number of North Shore communities to consider legislation. Deerfield passed an ordinance requiring safe storage and security of assault weapons at its Monday meeting and Highland Park passed an assault weapon ban last Monday.

"This is an important topic," said Lake Forest Mayor Don Schoenheider. "It's important to get feedback from the community."

This flurry of activity became important when the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill which allows the concealed carrying of handguns late last month. A provision of the legislation prevents home rule communities like Lake Forest from legislating about assault weapons in any way if they do not act within 10 days of Gov. Patrick Quinn signing the bill into law. 

Almost immediately after the state legislature passed its conceal carry legislation, state Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) began meeting with municipal officials to let them know what they had to do to preserve their rights. Drury attended Monday night's City Council meeting to present details about the bill.

"This is a divisive issue and a passionate issue," Drury told Patch earlier on Monday. 

Drury explained that the repercussions of the concealed carry law were that home rule communities like Lake Forest would lose a right they originally were able to regulate themselves. In this case, that right has to do with firearms.

"I have made clear to everybody that this issue isn't a second amendment issue," Drury said, "it's a home rule local community issue."

However, it's a home rule right that many Lake Forest residents seemed prepared to waive. Even after the City Council indicated whatever ordinance they passed would be more of a placeholder than a regulation, many residents spoke out against any ordinances.

"Do you believe in our Constitutional right?" asked Dorothy Thumler.

Lake Forest resident Bennett Stevens argued that gun laws do not seem to apply to those that are bent on doing harm to others.

"Gun laws do not work," he said.

Fred Lane, another Lake Forest resident and a former Chicago police officer, said that bans on guns "simply don't work."

Jane Partridge, from the League of Women Voters, was one of the few voices arguing in favor of assault weapon regulations.

"This is not about being anti-gun or gun control," she said. "This is about sensible gun policies for our health and safety."

Carl Marcyan, a Lake Forest attorney, disagreed.

"The best regulation right now is no regulation," he said.

The City Council sent the ordinance back to the city's attorneys for its July 15 meeting, where they expect to discuss an ordinance that has significantly less teeth than the one proposed Monday. For example, one possibility discussed was requiring residents to label assault weapons with a red sticker or face a small fine.

"We need you to frame this a little bit," Schoenheider said.

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