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Gun Culture Rifles

Highland Park, IL: White Wine Suburb Strikes at “Assault Weapons”

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  June 26th, 2013 1

The North Shore suburbs of Chicago have been unfriendly country for gun owners for years. Morton Grove banned handguns in 1982 (remember that anytime an anti says “no one wants to ban your guns”), and other communities like Winnetka and Oak Park have committed various acts of mischief over the years.

Now the local city council, defying scores of locals who skipped the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning game to speak out against the measure, has passed an “assault weapons” ban that will take effect if Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs concealed carry legislation now on his desk. Quinn has until July 9 to act, at which time a federal court decision would establish constitutional carry in Illinois if he fails to sign the bill.

This puts local gun owners who own both black rifles and pistols in a peculiar position. If Quinn signs concealed carry, they are immediately rendered criminals in Highland Park (the local ordinance would, of course, draw a lawsuit, presumably staying its implementation), but can apply for a concealed carry permit. If he doesn’t, their black guns are safe, but local concealed carry laws will be unclear.

While the City of Chicago is seeing gunplay at a level rarely glimpsed outside Grozny or Sarajevo, there is no particular outbreak of violence in Highland Park, a leafy town best known for Frank Lloyd Wright houses and the Ravinia music festival.

Councilman Dave Naftzger expressed doubts about the need for and efficacy of the bill, and warned “there’s no question in my mind about the specter of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of litigation costs” the ordinance would generate. He added that paying those bills would necessarily cut into other public safety efforts.

Those looking to score points on gunowners were undeterred. Resident Steve Sheffey was defiant:

“We in Highland Park should be proud if this ordinance is challenged, and we should be proud that our tax dollars are spent defending an ordinance that was designed to protect our families, our children, and our community,” Sheffey said. “There is no legitimate reason for anyone to own an assault weapon. The sole purpose of assault weapons is to kill people.”

Well, there are several million of them out there failing in their purpose, then.

When the Morton Grove ordnance was invalidated by the McDonald decision, one of the measure’s original sponsors admitted it had had no effect on crime, but “we were trying to send a message.” Sending your enemies a message by criminalizing them is a tactic that is becoming all too common these days, and it violates everything this country is supposed to stand for. We will hope the Supreme Court correctly sees it that way.

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