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posted: 7/14/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: Outlaw assault weapons in the suburbs

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  • Suburban municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more have the authority under new state legislation to ban assault weapons -- but only if they opt to do so by Friday.

    Suburban municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more have the authority under new state legislation to ban assault weapons -- but only if they opt to do so by Friday.
    Associated Press photo

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

For many years, we have advocated reasonable gun control.

For just as long, we've been averse to patchwork laws on the matter that create inconsistency and confusion. National, statewide or at least sizable regional jurisdictions make much more sense on matters like this.

That philosophy presents us now with a bit of a dilemma.

As part of the law passed last week to allow the citizenry to carry concealed handguns, the legislature allowed for suburban municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more to ban assault weapons.

Let's make no mistake about our position on assault weapons: They are killing machines that have no place in our communities. They are not designed for hunting, target practice or skeet shooting or to protect homes and property. They are designed to kill with alarming efficiency.

It now is apparent that the state will not ban these awful weapons.

Since that is the case, we hope then that area municipalities do so as a better alternative than no action at all -- despite the tremendous and unfair time pressure they are under.

Are proposals to ban assault weapons controversial? Yes, they are; frankly, they are controversial to a surprising degree. Are there implications to the bans that we oversimplify here? Undoubtedly, particularly if done sporadically on a local level as the legislation would allow.

(As a sidelight, we can only say that it is sad irony that in allowing municipalities to grapple with this issue, the General Assembly gives them only until Friday to do so. Only in Illinois would you expect to find state lawmakers who think a 10-day rush to consider significant legislative initiatives is a sensible way to govern. But think that, most of them apparently do. Their legislation all but says this is the way sensible government operates -- that it rushes around at an arbitrary last minute the way the General Assembly does every year to jam through or reject stuff that it hasn't properly deliberated. Just typical of this cynical and inept bunch.)

As we said up top, we acknowledge that local initiatives aren't the best approach to this issue. And already, several community leaders have expressed reluctance on those grounds.

Hanover Park Village President Rodney Craig said, "It's an issue that doesn't really belong at the municipal level. It's not our battle."

We agree with Craig quite often, but we don't agree with him on this.

Given Hanover Park's previous experience with violent crime, assault weapon danger is very much a municipal battle, and Craig and other suburban leaders owe it to their communities to wage that battle successfully.

And to wage it before it's too late.

One of the primary obligations of a municipality is to ensure public safety. That duty supersedes all else. Since the state will not act, it is incumbent on suburban municipalities to do so.

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