With one dissenting vote, the Buffalo Grove Village Board voted Monday night to defer a discussion and vote on an assault-weapons ban.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 60 residents waited more than an hour for the board to reach the agenda item that stirred debate on both sides of the gun-control issue. Although their names and contact information were collected by village staff, the residents didn't get a chance to address the board yet. Board members deferred the discussion in an effort to conduct more due diligence on the constitutionality of the issue and delve into greater detail on the types of weapons that might be restricted.
Trustee Mike Terson was prepared to vote Monday.
"I was disappointed," Terson said. "A lot of our residents came out because they don't want us to take on the role of Congress or the General Assembly. In my opinion, there's nothing to discuss. This is not an appropriate issue for a local municipality to decide."
As Village President Jeffrey Braiman explained to the audience, the Illinois General Assembly passed a concealed-carry firearms bill in May in response to a ruling by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Pat Quinn was given 30 days to review and sign the bill, which he has yet to do, though the deadline was extended to July 9.
The bill contains a provision that permits home-rule municipalities such as Buffalo Grove to ban certain weapons within 10 days after the governor's signature. After that, the village would be prohibited from passing legislation that regulates assault weapons. Braiman implored trustees to begin the discussion so, as Trustee Jeff Berman said, they don't have the "proverbial gun to their head" in making a quick decision.
Berman delivered a passionate 3,000-word monologue exploring various court challenges to the constitutionality of such a ban. He pointed out that in 1994, the Village Board rejected a proposed ordinance enacting a broad ban on various types of firearms. By suggesting a board vote Monday, he said it would be "unjustifiable overreaction," later making the motion to defer a decision.
The village attorney drafted an ordinance closely aligned with the Cook County assault-weapons ban. But since only one-third of the village is in Cook County, the remaining two-thirds in Lake County would not be covered by the ban.
Many residents took offense to the proposed ordinance, often clapping, cheering and calling out until Braiman asked audience members to restrain themselves.
"I'm against it as currently written," said Jared Davis, 31, a three-year Buffalo Grove resident. He took exception to language in the ordinance that gives any person legally in possession of an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine prohibited by the ordinance 90 days to remove it from the village, modify the weapon to render it permanently inoperable or surrender it to the chief of police for disposal with fines up to $1,000 for each violation.
"That doesn't leave a lot of options," he said. "You spent $2,000 on this piece of property, and then you have to destroy it."
His concerns were reiterated by Mike Weisman, second vice president of the Illinois State Rifle Association and a resident of unincorporated DuPage County.
"I'm here because my members called me," Weisman said. "This would be a messy affair for local government to defend. Litigation has been expensive. If they defend this, they're spending taxpayers' money."
Terson didn't believe the threat should deter the Village Board.
"Legislators need to do what's in the best interest of the people they serve," Terson said. "The threat of litigation is not a reason not to do the right thing, even at this level."
New Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steve Casstevens agreed.
"The issue is bigger than Buffalo Grove, it's statewide," he said. "In Buffalo Grove, they're doing the right thing to bring it up for discussion and research."
Casstevens confirmed there had been no violent crimes involving assault weapons in the village.