St. Charles City Council chambers were packed Monday night with a gun-friendly crowd who urged aldermen to leave banning assault weapons off the table when Illinois' new concealed carry law is signed into law.
The legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, gives communities 10 days from when the law takes effect to ban assault weapons. That will be the only window for local governments to institute any regulations on those kinds of weapons, said John McGuirk, city attorney.
Aldermen showed little desire to take action on assault weapons.
"I personally don't understand why anyone needs an assault weapon," said Ald. Ron Silkaitis. "But I believe in the Second Amendment. I would not vote in favor of any ban on assault weapons."
"I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," said Ald. Jim Martin. "I will object to anyone who tries to water it down in any way."
The crowd responded resoundingly with applause at both statements.
Gun enthusiasts were out in force, though no action had been planned. Police Chief Jim Lamkin was on the Government Services Committee's agenda to provide information to aldermen about what the legislation, once in effect, would mean for St. Charles.
The city has a law prohibiting residents from carrying guns on their person, in their car or in their home or business. The concealed carry legislation would invalidate that local law, along with the current law that prohibits the sale, manufacture, purchase, possession or carrying of any weapon capable of firing more than eight shots by a single function.
Aldermen may have to delete those items from code, Lamkin said, to avoid confusion.
He spelled out several exceptions to where concealed carry would be legal, such as schools, bars, playgrounds, public parks, public transit, sporting events or government buildings. Anyone interested in obtaining a concealed carry permit must have a FOID card and undergo firearm training, among other requirements.
Some residents who identified themselves as either veterans or members of local sportsmen's clubs spoke, either asking questions about the legislation or explaining why they preferred to keep assault weapons legal in St. Charles.
"(Assault weapons) are harmless, fun and great for people who can't play golf," said one sportsman's club member.
Quinn must act on the legislation by July 9 to meet a court-imposed deadline.