Oak Park has been a proud national leader on gun safety since the 1980s. From its groundbreaking ban on ownership of handguns in the village, which was passed in 1984, to battling and narrowly losing that ban in a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, Oak Park has stood up for the rights of citizens to be safe from gun violence.

Now the village is back at it.

On July 5 the Oak Park Village Board unanimously approved a gun safety ordinance with two parts. One aspect focuses on requiring the safe storage of firearms within the village. The other allows the village to conduct gun buybacks aimed at taking firearms off the street.

Yes, these are modest initiatives taken within the limits the current Supreme Court might well allow within its warped interpretation of the Second Amendment. Still, it is notable that this small town in the Midwest is staying true to its conviction that the flood of handguns, mostly illegally obtained or loosely regulated, overtaking our wider Chicago community is a public health hazard.

Standing up for gun safety measures, even modest ones, is a bold statement that Oak Park is not buying into the gun-buying frenzy which has swept this nation over the past dozen years.

Credit goes to the village board, to Chief Shatonya Johnson who called the proliferation of guns a “public health crisis,” and to the local Gun Responsibility Advocates and Moms Demand Action groups, who have been steadfast in keeping a focus on the necessity of common-sense gun safety measures.

Back in 1985, the NRA pumped massive funds into a handgun ban referendum held in Oak Park. It sought to swamp the local effort to uphold the village government’s handgun ban. The vote was narrowly won by gun safety proponents. Nearly 40 years later, the NRA is still pumping money into friendly political hands and defending the unfettered rights of gun manufacturers and gun sellers to further the mayhem of guns in America.

Oak Park’s action is a small light in a dark moment. Which makes it all the more impressive.

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