Oak Park is in good shape on gun legislation

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Chris Walsh

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Dear President Abu-Taleb and village trustees,

I live in Oak Park and am the former chairman of the Oak Park Citizens Committee for Handgun Control, which led the fight to enact Oak Park's handgun ban in 1983-84 and to successfully defend it in the village referendum on the ban, held in November of 1985.

I also am a former law clerk to the late Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as Judge William J. Bauer, senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, so I have at least a nodding acquaintance with federal constitutional law.

I write you to state my views on the Village of Oak Park's response to Governor Quinn's amendatory veto of the concealed-carry bill, which will soon go back to the General Assembly for further action.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in the McDonald case, which overturned our handgun ban by a 5-4 vote — the narrowest of possible margins — I sharply criticized the Court's opinion as inconsistent with the plain language of the Second Amendment and the historic power of state and local governments to police the possession and use of lethal weapons.

I believe the McDonald decision, as well as Heller, its predecessor, which overturned the District of Columbia's handgun ban, are bad law and will — one day — be overturned. However, for now, we have no choice but to respect these Supreme Court decisions as stating the law of the land.

Since then, I have not chosen to speak publicly about issues pertaining to alternative regulation of handguns because, until the courts have given us clearer guidance on the subject of gun control, I believe it would be imprudent to undertake any sort of aggressive, new regulation of handguns or other lethal weapons at the local level.

As you know, in the wake of Heller and McDonald, the Seventh Circuit has ruled that states may not impose a blanket prohibition on the public carrying of guns and has given the state of Illinois until July 8 to come up with a less restrictive approach to the subject of concealed-carry. The result is the concealed-carry bill which the Governor has recently vetoed.

It is my understanding that the legislature has until July 9 to respond to the Governor's veto. It seems likely that the General Assembly will enact the bill into law over the Governor's veto. This requires a three-fifths vote in each house of the legislature. But the bill passed by a larger margin in each house.

According to the bill, local governments have an extremely short period of time — 10 days — in which to respond to the concealed-carry bill if it becomes law through a legislative override of the Governor's veto. It is my understanding that any local ban on assault weapons will be ineffective unless enacted within 10 days of the bill's becoming law. Happily, Oak Park has already banned the possession of assault weapons, though village counsel probably should be consulted to make sure that our ordinance is consistent with the proposed bill.

Although any local licensing or registration of handguns would be pre-empted by the proposed state law, it is my understanding that we have no such provision affected by it, and that Oak Park's ban on the sale of firearms to private citizens would not be overturned by the bill.

However, you may want to seek further counsel from the village attorney on this subject, as well as on the question of whether such limitations are constitutional in the wake of the Heller and McDonald opinions. In my personal opinion, at least, bans on the private sale of firearms and possession of assault weapons within the village appear to be clearly consistent with the language of those decisions.

In sum, you are in the happy position of having to do nothing in response to the concealed-carry bill, assuming it becomes law over the Governor's veto. Your predecessors in office have already dealt with the assault weapon and sales issues and enacted ordinances which they believed properly protect the public health and safety of the community.

I believe our ordinance, as amended in the wake of the Supreme Court's decisions in Heller and McDonald, is constitutional and do not ask you to go any further in regulating handguns or other firearms at this time.


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Posted: July 16th, 2013 10:59 PM

Also, this paper and Mr. Walsh did not inform us that Wilson Vs. Cook County was remanded back to the lower courts for judicial review by the IL Supreme Court with a stinging rebuke. Add Lt Gov. Sheila Simon lying her fanny off that IL Supreme Court UPHELD Wilson vs. Cook Co. If Wilson wins the county case, then ISRA, NRA, and 2nd Amendment Foundation will collect a second check down the road. Paying $399.000 the first time wasn't enough eh? Time to pay some more.....


Posted: July 16th, 2013 10:51 PM

Looks like for this assault weapons ban to fall, its time to use United State Code, Title 42, Section 1983 class action suits on the Village President and the Trustees for violation of civil rights on its citizens. That mean general immunities will be lifted and they will pay out of their own pockets for court costs and damages. No sane police officer worth his salt would try to arrest individuals on this. With five other towns on board as Oak Park, this is going to happen down the road.

Oak Parker  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 8:45 AM

Thank you for self-important condescension.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: July 14th, 2013 2:12 PM

Ray - check out Berwyn's AWB. it covers any burst or automatic weapon so its a better fit for the intent of a AWB in my opinion. Not really needed because these weapons are already illegal to possess under state law, but folks like to say that they have a ban on the books for some reason.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2013 2:05 PM

Had heller been settled 5-4 your way you would have been touting it as an overwhelming victory. You guys are hypocrites. Ken Trainor is involved in a group ( Me too! ) trying to find a legal and acceptable firearms position for Oak Park. Our first meetings were consumed in stating positions so far removed from compromise that common ground was unlikely. Recently things seem more reasonable and we are almost to the point of discovering a goal we can all agree to. The assault weapons ban is a foolish ordinance since the definition of an assault weapon was written by people who were more concerned with how frightening a rifle looks than its potential for danger. The DOJ statistics on crime with a long gun of any variety is so small as not to cause a blip on the chart. You hand wring over silly things while ignoring the big picture of putting away thugs who do bad things with firearms.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 5:27 PM

wrong address- if folks in OP were to stop giving self righteous lectures on what is "good for us all", this would be a quiet town indeed.

wrong address from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:03 PM

Mr. Walsh, I believe that President Abu-Taleb and Trustees receive mail at Village Hall, not via the WJ. Some may misinterpret this mailing error for a self righteous lecture on what is "good for us all". Since the letter assumes your position is based on current law and will of the people, and acknowledges no reasonable dissent, publication is unwarranted, no? Self serving monologues cut off dialog, which is relatively consistent with one side of this complex issues. Do you require a stamp?

joe from south oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 12:02 PM

I'm more than happy to take the associated revenue generated from my firearms purchases/sales/repairs over to Berwyn. If Oak Park doesn't want that commerce in the village it is their loss. I usually generate around $1500 to $2000 a year worth of sales in firearms, ammunition, gunsmithing, accessories, training, range fees, cleaning supplies and the like. Just think of all the money that could be had if the sales taxes from those purchases were generated in OP instead of other suburbs.

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