On Wednesday, Chicago’s city council passed a measure that expands the city’s ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ while Cook County commissioners not only followed suit by upgrading their AWB but also approved a stringent child safety lock measure thought to be the toughest in the state.
The changes came before a Friday deadline imposed under the state’s new concealed carry law, home rule communities were given a 10-day window to either approve a ban on “assault weapons,” revise current ordinances to the way they see fit (as long as their laws obey the state and federal constitutions), or just simply follow state law.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was delighted that the city council unanimously approved the measure that prohibits the import, sale, transfer and possession of certain guns by name, semiautomatic rifles with “military-style” features and so-called ‘high-capacity’ magazines within city limits.
“Weapons that are designed for the battlefield have no place on the streets of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said.
“By strengthening our ordinance, we will have a clear, comprehensive and enforceable law that continues to prevent dangerous weapons from threatening the safety of our residents,” Emanuel continued. “Chicago will continue to lead the way in enacting the toughest gun control measures possible while still respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
As local ABC News affiliate WLS reported, under the specifics of the new AWB, any semiautomatic rifle or handgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine and has at least one military feature; any shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, has at least one military feature, or has a fixed capacity of more than five rounds; and any weapon with a fixed magazine of more than 15 rounds. Military features include telescoping stocks, pistol grips, grenade launchers, barrel shrouds and other features.
Those who are caught violating the AWB will face fines not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 and jail time not less than 90 days and not more than 180 days.
In addition to expanding the city’s AWB, the council approved a “school safety zone” ordinance that would raise penalties for certain gun crimes near schools and along designated “Safe Passage” routes.
The penalties would include $1,000 to $5,000 fines and at least 30 days in jail for the first offense, $5,000 to $15,000 fines and 90 days in jail for the second, and $10,000 to $20,000 fines and at least six months in jail for the third, as noted in a previous Guns.com article.
Likewise, Cook County commissioners expanded the county’s AWB, also adding more guns to the list of prohibited weapons while broadening the qualifying characteristics of what makes a so-called ‘assault weapon’ an ‘assault weapon’ (for the updated standards, click here).
County Board President Toni Preckwinkle believes the revised AWB will help save lives and reduce gun-related violence.
“We must do what we can to stem the tide of gun violence and keep weapons with high levels of destructive capability out of circulation,” President Preckwinkle said. “This amended ordinance recognizes the challenges we face in Cook County and puts in place responsible and meaningful laws aimed at protecting our residents and law enforcement officers.”
Besides expanding the list of banned weapons, the new AWB ratchets up the penalties for violators. As noted in the Board’s press release:
Any person found in violation shall be subject to a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000. The previous fines ranged from $500 to $1,000. A subsequent violation of the ordinance could bring a fine of up to $10,000. Individuals found in violation may still be sentenced for a jail term of up to six months.
Additionally, and as mentioned, the Board passed a controversial child safety lock ordinance that requires gun owners to do one of the following if they have someone younger than 21 in their residence: (a) have a trigger lock on all firearms (b) store unloaded firearms in separate container from ammunition or (c) have the firearm secured to the body of the legal gun owner.
As noted by Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-Streamwood), the “Protection of Minors” ordinance, as it’s known, raises legal concerns because it defines minors as anyone under the age of 21. This precludes military-age individuals, 18 and older, from being able to lawfully possess a firearm unless they are at a shooting range or hunting with someone over the age of 21.
In short, Cook County should be expecting a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association.
To that point, Todd Vandermyde, a Illinois-based NRA lobbyist, told the Chicago Tribune that he doesn’t expect the new county measures to pass legal muster. He further noted that Chicago had to dole out $1.3 million in legal fees after the nation’s gun lobby successful sued to have the city’s ban on handguns overturned.
“It’s Cook County,” Vandermyde said. “You’ve got an anti-gun majority on the board. You’ve got an anti-gun president. They think the 2nd Amendment is a piece of toilet paper. They haven’t learned any lessons from Chicago. We’ll see what happens.”
Yet Prekwinkle seemed undaunted by the looming legal battle, suggesting that it’s par for the course in Cook County.
“Every piece of legislation that we’ve passed in this body that relates to firearms has been challenged — every piece of legislation — so I think that we can anticipate that we will be sued,” Preckwinkle told the Chicago Tribune. “We will do the best we can nonetheless.”