As Illinois became the last state in the country to make concealed-carry legal, many municipalities scrambled under short deadline to determine if it was necessary to implement an assault weapon ban before that deadline expired.
Cities like Oak Park and Chicago already had the necessary ordinances in place, but River Forest has not adopted a measure. Because the concealed-carry bill prohibits future assault weapons bans, communities had only a 10-day window to enact local laws after the legislation passed.
Oak Park Village Attorney Simone Boutet said because the state law trumps some gun laws in the future, the village won’t be able to implement any local ordinances that the law supersedes.
“We won’t be able to do anything new or creative,” Boutet said. This doesn’t mean, however, that Oak Park can’t review its codes to determine if there are ways to aid public safety in the community. The village will be reviewing its weapon codes to see how Oak Park can advance public safety, Boutet said.
While the new state law does not trump all gun laws in the future, Boutet said the state law pre-empts regulating concealed carry and local gun registration. The village still has the power to regulate gun stores and other concepts like reporting lost and stolen guns as long as the ordinances align with the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution and state law.
Boutet also called the 10-day time restriction “unreasonable” for municipalities to adopt a good law.
The Oak Park Board of Health was tasked in May 2012 to review options for handgun regulation measures, included a possible local handgun registry, mandatory training requirements for handgun owners, mandatory requirements for handgun storage or use of trigger locks, mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns within 72 hours, licensing of gun dealers, limitations on location of gun dealers, and voluntary education campaigns and other initiatives. The health board was against all except two.
Board members expressed support for a proposal regarding voluntary education campaigns and other initiatives. No opinion was given on reporting lost or stolen guns in a specific time frame. Now Oak Park won’t have the chance to enact any of these policies.
Still, Boutet said Oak Park benefited from having the assault weapon before the General Assembly passed the concealed-carry law because of the quick turnaround other communities were forced to act under.
“We were lucky to have one and we’re keeping it,” Simone said. “That’s not to say we won’t have an ordinance review. But we’re going to keep it.”
Harmon, Quinn disappointed by concealed-carry vote
Governor Pat Quinn’s attempt at rewriting the concealed-carry bill failed on July 9, the state’s deadline, after the Senate voted 41-17 and the House 77-31 to override the governor’s amendatory veto.
Quinn didn’t hide his frustration at a press conference in Springfield soon after the bill passed when he said, “Today was a bad day for public safety in Illinois.” Quinn’s rewrite of the bill included banning handguns and high-capacity weapons from establishments with liquor licenses. He wanted to limit the number of guns a person could carry to one. His version also called for stricter mental health background check requirements for people obtaining a concealed-carry permit.
Quinn had support from state Sen. Don Harmon and state Rep. La Shawn Ford, both of whom voted against the override. But Quinn was also mocked by the House majority leaders for not following the initial vote, according to media reports.
Harmon, who spoke against the bill from the beginning, released the following statement on July 9:
“This law does not focus on keeping people safe,” Harmon wrote. “It allows people to carry loaded guns into restaurants that serve alcohol. It doesn’t give law enforcement agencies enough time to object when suspected gang members apply for concealed-carry licenses. It cripples local governments’ ability to regulate assault weapons. The list just goes on and on.
“I’m disappointed with this new law. I believe we can and should add more protections to when and how people can carry guns in public places. I believe in give-and-take and compromise, but we can’t bargain away the safety of our families.”
Under the new law, which will soon go into effect, people with concealed-carry permits do not have to inform law officers that they are carrying a gun. This was a major concern addressed by the governor. He also stressed the “common sense” measure of keeping guns out of places that serve alcohol. Mental health reporting was another Quinn suggestion that was not adopted.
In the heated press conference on July 9, Quinn vowed to work with lawmakers to swiftly pass follow-up “common-sense gun laws” to address what he called the shortfalls of the bill.
“There is no need for high-capacity magazines or having multiple weapons,” Quinn said, “or more than one high-capacity magazine. This is plain wrong.”
Quinn was questioned about why he didn’t accept the General Assembly vote, and he responded by saying the job of the governor is to “fight for the common good,” which is something individual lawmakers don’t always do.
“My amendatory veto was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do today. It is the right thing to do tomorrow.”
Quinn was also questioned about not being involved enough in negotiations, but the governor said he was in the fight from day one. He said he heard from victims of shootings, including families from New Town, Conn., and spoke with members of the legislature “over and over again.”
Quinn emphasized that his version of the bill would prohibit multiple high-capacity weapons; he questioned why anyone would need such firepower “unless they are committed to mass murder.”
In Oak Park, Police Chief Rick Tanksley has expressed concern with the initial bill and how it could affect law officers conducting their jobs. But because Illinois was prompted by a federal appeals court order, which ruled Illinois’ ban of concealed-carry unconstitutional, Tanksley and other local leaders knew change was coming.
“We have to make sure that whatever action is taken addresses the community’s concerns in a way that not only will be effective but also will stand up to a court challenge,” he said in May.
Oak Park’s history on handgun regulation dates back to 1984 when village trustees passed a law banning handguns. It was reinforced by voter referendum in 1985. The ban was overturned in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court called the action unconstitutional. The case resulted in the National Rifle Association being granted more than $1.7 million in legal fees from Oak Park and the city of Chicago. This fee was eventually paid entirely by Chicago in accord with an agreement between the municipalities.
Locally, the concealed-carry law will require additional training for officers to remind them of the change. Tanksley said officers are always taught to be prepared for potential threats, but this law would call for additional awareness on the officers’ part.
NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect clarifications from errors an earlier version of the article included. The village attorney did not specify that state law trumps all other gun laws in the future. According to the village attorney, Oak Park can still review its weapon code and plans to do so. Oak Park also has the ability to review gun registration laws and adopt local ordinances in a manner that is not in conflict with state or federal laws. The updated version now reflects these changes.