The Cook County Board Wednesday voted to ban the sale of guns to people under 21, restrict how people with children at home store their ammunition and add firearms to its list of banned so-called assault weapons.
The votes come as suburbs have until midnight Friday to approve their own assault weapons bans, though few have expressed much interest in doing so. Cook County Board attorneys said they believe because they already have a ban in place, they can change it whenever they want. But getting in under the state deadline could prevent some legal challenges.
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Suburbs in Cook County are subject to the ban unless they have their own rules in place, and communities like Buffalo Grove and Roselle that cross counties are faced with having two different sets of rules in town.
The new Cook County list of banned weapons ranges from grenade launchers to some handguns and pistols, and some of the board's debate displayed the legal nuances of guns law as commissioners discussed a provision that would outlaw certain-sized rocket launchers. It was approved by a 9-4 vote.
The Chicago City Council approved its own assault weapons ban Wednesday, too.
Cook County Board Commissioner John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat, said a legal challenge concerned him because the new rules approved Wednesday restrict not only the possession and sale of assault weapons in the county, but also bans people from carrying them.
State lawmakers approved the carrying of concealed guns this year, at the same time making laws about the issue their sole authority.
Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a Chicago Democrat, said any guns ordinances the board approved would likely end up in court.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the board he thinks the board's action is illegal, arguing only the state can restrict the ownership of some handguns, and how firearms can be transported is the state's authority.
In addition, Vandermyde said, the county's assault weapons ban continues to be subject to court review.
"I don't think this is going to comply," Vandermyde said.
Meanwhile, those under 21 won't be allowed to buy guns in Cook County under a new plan also approved by the board Wednesday.
By state law, people 18 and older can buy long guns like shotguns and people 21 years and older can buy handguns. The new Cook County ordinance would restrict the sale of all guns for people under 21.
But some commissioners expressed concern that someone old enough to go to war wouldn't be old enough to buy a gun when returning home.
"You can go to war at 18, but you can't buy a gun at 18," said Commissioner Peter Silvestri, an Elmwood Park Republican.
It was approved by an 11-3 vote despite additional legal concerns from Fritchey that limiting how people can store their guns at home could invite legal challenges.
The plan would require gun owners with minors in their home to store their gun in a locked container and store the ammo elsewhere.