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Article updated: 1/16/2013 5:58 PM

Cook County Board steps into gun fray

By Jake Griffin

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle introduced an ordinance Wednesday that would levy a $1,000 fine on any gun owner who failed to report the theft of his or her weapon within 48 hours.

"This ordinance does not take a single gun out of a law-abiding citizen's hands," she said. "It will allow law enforcement to go after individuals who are conducting straw purchases of guns for gangs and others who are obtaining guns illegally."

The proposal was announced shortly after the board voted to approve a resolution urging the state legislature to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require firearm registration and close a gun show loophole that doesn't require background checks. Ten commissioners voted in favor of the resolution, three voted "present," two were absent and Northwest suburban commissioners Timothy Schneider and Gregg Goslin voted against it.

"There are not enough specifics to let the legislature know what is opposed," Schneider, a Bartlett Republican, said. "Where's the definition of an assault weapon?"

Goslin, a Glenview Republican, said he liked the sentiment, but didn't believe in telling other government bodies "what they should be doing."

"We should focus on things we can control," he said.

The county already has a ban on assault weapons. Even supporters acknowledged the resolution was unlikely to curb much of the gun violence that has plagued Chicago in recent years. However, Preckwinkle remained steadfast in her efforts to reduce gun violence in the county.

"There needs to be a comprehensive effort from every level of government to keep military-style weapons designed for battlefields off our streets," Preckwinkle said.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly said Wednesday they won't wait for Congress to act on gun-control legislation and plan to press ahead with a statewide ban on assault weapons and tighter firearms restrictions in Chicago in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre last month.

Legislation already has been filed in the state Senate that would restrict semiautomatic assault rifles and rapid ammunition feeders, despite failed attempts at such measures in the final days of the last General Assembly's session earlier this month.

Gun-rights advocates such as the National Rifle Association have regularly tamped down gun-control measures and worked against the recent Illinois legislation.

Preckwinkle has targeted gun control measures as she begins her second term in office. She championed a $25-per-weapon tax hike on gun sales approved by the board this year, but abandoned a proposal to tax bullets an extra nickel for every round of ammunition.

The 48-hour window to report a stolen weapon law is her latest foray into cracking down on gun violence and came on the same day that President Obama unveiled a $500 million gun-violence package.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, 634 people were murdered in the county in 2012 and 535 of those murders were the result of gunshot wounds.

čThe Associated Press contributed to this report.

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