By Ken Trainor
Are you in favor of regulating guns in spite of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court banning our handgun ban? The Oak Park Board of Health, a citizens advisory panel, will host a public forum next Tuesday night to give residents a chance to weigh in on the subject.
"We want to hear from citizens about their thoughts and ideas as to how firearms should be regulated in the village of Oak Park," said Margaret Provost-Fyfe, director of the Oak Park Public Health Department.
The health department has already come up with a list of ideas, ranging from a handgun registry to requiring village-sponsored safety training and zoning regulations for gun stores (so we don't get a repeat of the shop that just opened on Roosevelt Road, across the street from two towns with significant gang activity — Brilliant!).
I won't be at the forum on Jan. 24 (village hall, 7 p.m.) because I've already heard more than I care to from the "rah, rah, guns for everyone" crowd, but I do have a few suggestions for the board's consideration:
1) An advisory referendum on the November ballot: "In the interest of public safety, are you in favor of regulating the use, possession and sale of handguns in the village of Oak Park?" Or words to that effect. It would allow voters to make a statement and we'll find out where residents really stand on the issue. Or have the board of health conduct a village-wide survey on guns, gun ownership and gun carrying in the village. The results would likely be illuminating.
2) Institute a voluntary ban on handguns. It's symbolic, but it allows us to take a public stand in favor of sanity. They say people rise to meet expectations. Oak Park should clearly and courageously state its collective expectation: We don't want guns in our village. Cite the referendum results as proof. People need to know when they're out of step with their community.
3) Impose a stiff tax on gun ownership. Gun enthusiasts should have to pay for the privilege of endangering the rest of us. It's the least they can do to show how socially responsible they are. If they don't register and pay the tax, their gun ownership would be revoked.
4) Install metal detectors at the entrance of all public buildings — libraries, schools, churches, village hall, the Lake Theatre, restaurants. According to The Index in Harper's magazine last month, no less than 11,488 guns were confiscated last year alone from tourists visiting the Statue of Liberty. That gives a clear indication of the insanity sweeping this country. I don't want modern gunslingers bringing their weapons into public places in Oak Park. Just as cowboys had to surrender their pistols when they entered the saloon in the old Westerns, today's cowboys and vigilante-wannabes should have to surrender their precious firearms in full view of everyone — and then show their FOID card in order to retrieve them when they leave.
5) Require anyone with a gun to join a newly constituted Oak Park Militia, which would train several weeks per year, preferably during the hottest part of the summer, plus one weekend per month. Since they love the Second Amendment so much and since the amendment so clearly states that being a member of a well-regulated militia is critical to the right to bear arms, they can hardly object. The police would call them in to assist in emergencies.
Whatever we do, let's set an example for other communities around the country. Maybe this will catch on.
The Supreme Court ruling is wrong. They're imposing an extremist interpretation of the Second Amendment. Communities should be allowed to protect their "domestic tranquility" as they see fit, not forced on us by well-financed, outside lobbying groups. The conservative partisans who rule the court now won't be there forever. Someday, when the country comes to its senses, we'll finally repeal this execrable, obsolete amendment. The day that happens should be declared a national holiday.
Law, first and foremost, is a way for communities to codify their values and their expectations. I'm pretty confident in saying that the vast majority of Oak Park residents do not value firearms. We expect people to keep them out of this community. Our laws should reflect that. They are an expression of our very identity.
The problem with next Tuesday's forum is that it will be dominated by the gun slingers, so, like me, a lot of people may stay away to spare themselves the aggravation. Instead, I urge an email/phone call/letter-writing campaign to express your support for regulating guns in Oak Park. Feel free to second my motion for any or all of the aforementioned recommendations.
I suggest contacting Village President David Pope, who has expressed an interest in this issue, by calling 708-358-5796 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Margaret Provost-Fyfe, head of the health department, by calling 708-358-5480 or e-mailing email@example.com.
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