Skokie trustees set to consider assault weapons law - Fox 2 News Headlines

Skokie trustees set to consider assault weapons law

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SKOKIE, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A proposed ordinance banning and regulating assault weapons is set to be presented to the Skokie Village Board Monday in the hope of beating a deadline established by Springfield legislators.

Like many home rule municipalities, the northern suburb is trying to pass the ban while it still can – within 10 days of the state's "Concealed Carry Act" being signed into law.

House Bill 183 is still awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, and it's not certain when he will make it a new law. But if and when he does, municipalities that do not have an assault weapons ban on the books 10 days later could be left out forever.

The proposed Skokie ordinance is listed on Monday's agenda as "first reading," which generally means that it would be approved at the next meeting later in the month. But there have been times, under urgent situations, when Skokie has suspended such rules so final votes can take place when an ordinance is presented.

"It is prudent to enact a limited or narrow ordinance to satisfy the constricted time constraints of HB183, with the expectation that it could be amended or repealed at a future date if deemed to be appropriate," the proposed Skokie ordinance reads.

The ordinance covers two series of weapons: those that would be banned and others that would be required to be stored safely.

Banned firearms and parts would include semi-automatic action, rifles with a detachable or fixed magazine with a capacity of 15 or more rounds; semi-automatic shotguns with a folding stock or a magazine capacity of more than six rounds; firearms which have been modified to be operable as an assault weapon; and parts designated to modify a firearm so it can operate as an assault weapon, including a detachable magazine with a capacity of 15 or more rounds.

Corporation Counsel Michael Lorge noted that some other municipalities have approved ordinances with a broader ban. The intent here, he said, is to get a ban in the books so as not to be shut out forever.

"This is a necessary placeholder," Lorge said.

He believes the second part of the ordinance – requiring safe storage of legal firearms – "should be embraced by both sides" of the controversial gun control debate.

Under the ordinance, those firearms must be "secured in a locked container or safe, or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock, trigger lock, gun lock or other mechanical or electronic safety device, engaged so as to keep the firearm inoperable when not in actual use."

Firearms and parts that fall under such restrictions include semi-automatic action rifles with any detachable or fixed magazine or shroud around the barrel or grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand; semi-automatic shotguns with a folding stock or a detachable or fixed magazine or shroud around the barrel or grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand; semi-automatic pistols with any detachable or fixed magazine or capable of attaching a magazine other than a pistol grip; firearms which have been modified to be operable as an assault weapon; and parts designed to modify a firearm so it can operate as an assault weapon including a detachable magazine with a capacity of 15 or more rounds.

Should the new ordinance become law, Lorge said, the village has no intention of entering homes to confiscate firearms.

"Like any ordinance we pass, we would expect everyone to be law-abiding (residents)," he said.

In many cases, it would be possible for residents who own firearms that fall under the banned category to make modifications to their guns to comply with the law, he said.

Village officials believe the safe storage regulations are reasonable and important.

"It would be beneficial for the safety of residents … and aid law enforcement officials if a certain category of assault weapons, when not in use, were subject to safe storage and security regulations to protect against accidental, unauthorized or illegal use and that such regulation would be supported by thoughtful individuals on either side of the assault weapon issue."

Skokie's potential assault weapons legislation sparked a passionate debate at the last Skokie Village Board meeting where more than 15 residents argued for or against Skokie adopting an ordinance.

"Assault weapon regulation is an emotional issue for many residents on both sides of the issue, as a result of personal experiences, ideological concerns and horrific events," the ordinance recognizes.

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