SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As Illinois prepares to become the last state in the country to allow the concealed carry of firearms, few of its communities appear concerned that the window allowing them to ban assault-style weapons will rapidly begin closing next week.
Despite encouragement from Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon — and on the verge of almost-certain enactment next week of a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons — only four communities have adopted semi-automatic gun restrictions out of more than two dozen taking them up.
According to interviews and information from gun-rights groups such as the Illinois State Rifle Association, 14 communities have rejected or decided not to act on proposed bans. Ten have yet to vote or have delayed consideration.
All of them are in the Chicago metropolitan area. Those adopting bans — Highland Park, North Chicago, Melrose Park, and Skokie — join eight other cities, also near Chicago, that already regulate possession or sale and transfer of illegal weapons, according to research compiled by the Illinois House Democrats’ staff.
The odd linkage of packing handguns in public to allow city-based bans on semi-automatic weapons comes from a delicately negotiated settlement that will make Illinois the last of 50 states to allow the carrying of concealed weapons.
Lawmakers approved concealed carry in May after a federal appeals court ruled it is unconstitutional for the state to prohibit it.
Gun-rights supporters pushed through the House a concealed carry initiative which invalidated all local ordinances regulating guns. Chicago Democrats in the Senate demanded that Chicago be allowed to keep its ban on assault-style rifles, leading to the compromise allowing those places without such bans 10 days to enact them.
“I just don’t see the place for it. I’m not against people having guns, not at all,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, whose village board unanimously voted for a ban in late June. “The thing I can’t get my arms around, I know when the Constitution was passed, I don’t think they could envision these types of guns.”
Along with the dozen communities banning them, Deerfield officials voted not to ban the weapons but adopted storage regulations. Outside the Chicago area, only a couple communities requested information from Simon when she urged cities in early June to consider bans. None followed up.
Lawmakers adopted the concealed carry legislation by margins large enough to invalidate Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto of the bill on Tuesday. Quinn called the initiative “flawed” and along with tougher restrictions, suggested there be no time limit on enacting local assault-weapons bans.
The Highland Park City Council agreed with Quinn’s contention that larger cities with “home rule” powers should have a say on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeders.