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Article updated: 6/17/2013 10:39 PM

Buffalo Grove trustees defer on assault weapons ban

By Steve Zalusky

Buffalo Grove trustees, saying they were not comfortable with the state of Illinois putting a gun to their heads to meet a deadline for voting on an assault weapons ban, decided to defer the discussion.

The village's Cook County section of the village is already under the control of the county's assault weapons ban.

At Monday's meeting, the motion to defer was made by Trustee Jeffrey Berman and seconded by Trustee Lester Ottenheimer III. Only Trustee Michael Terson voted against deferring.

Village President Jeffrey Braiman brought the ordinance in response to a state deadline for home rule municipalities to exercise local control.

"If we don't do anything within that period of time, we lose any opportunity to do anything, good, bad or indifferent," he said.

In May, the Illinois General Assembly passed a concealed carry bill that was in itself a response to a federal court decision requiring the adoption of concealed-carry legislation by June 9. The state's attorney general was granted an extension of 30 days for Gov. Pat Quinn to review and sign the bill and has asked for a second extension.

Within that bill is a provision permitting home rule municipalities to ban certain assault weapons on or before 10 days after the governor puts his signature on the bill, after which that window would close.

The village's ordinance, crafted by Village Attorney William Raysa based on the Cook County ordinance, prohibits the manufacture, sale, acquisition, possession, loan or transfer of any assault weapon or large capacity magazine.

The definition of assault weapon does not include antique firearms, firearms that have been rendered permanently inoperable or weapons designed for Olympic target shooting events.

The ordinance calls for a fine of between $500 and $1,000 for each violation.

The ordinance contains a lengthy definition of an assault weapon that be found on the village's website.

During the discussion, trustees said they were not equipped with enough information to make an informed decision.

Berman, an attorney, provided a legal context, examining the issue in terms of the meaning of Second Amendment and the history of Supreme Court cases.

He quoted Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in one case that "like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited" -- that, indeed, "dangerous and unusual weapons" could be prohibited.

That, Berman said, raises the question of what is dangerous and unusual.

"I don't think we're prepared to say exactly which weapons would go on that list and which ones wouldn't."

Noting that the list in the ordinance was based on Cook County's, he said the village has no information on how such a list was created by Cook County.

"I can say in all sincerity that I am not in any way comfortable relying upon the analysis of or delegating my decision making authority to the county of Cook." The latter statement generated spontaneous applause from the packed village hall.

"Although the bill appears to place a proverbial gun to our head," Berman said, acting Monday to meet the state deadline would amount to an unjustifiable overreaction, since at this point the village does not know if the bill will be signed by the governor. He could even exercise an amendatory veto on the home rule provision. If the governor signs the bill, the village could still enact a local ordinance within the 10-day deadline.

He said the village board needs more information before it can make an informed decision.

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