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updated: 7/19/2013 10:52 AM

Hanover Park officials united against assault weapons ban

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The question over whether Hanover Park would join the handful of communities to ban assault weapons was answered Thursday night with a resounding no.

The board voted unanimously against passing an ordinance, a move that prompted more than three dozen opponents in attendance to stand up and applaud.

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"Thank you for listening to us," resident Michael Doukas shouted.

The board's vote means future decisions on the topic will be left to county or state lawmakers. A new state law that will allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons in public set midnight tonight as the deadline for suburbs to enact restrictions on so-called assault weapons and define what qualifies.

The northern half of the village already falls under Cook County's ban.

Confusion and inconsistency over what constitutes an assault weapon was one argument opponents used. They also said a ban would be wholly ineffective against preventing violence. Comments were decidedly more civil and respectful than the public discussion that took place last month.

"As Americans, we should be shunning government control and failed policies," resident Art Berthelot said.

Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig acknowledged that he, despite being a veteran, knows little about guns. He said he wanted officials to have a dialogue because assault weapons, violence and the ban are serious issues.

Ultimately, however, he said the village isn't in a position to fight the inevitable legal battles that would follow. Those resources and staff time would be better spent elsewhere.

"I want to protect our rights," Craig said. "I believe in that. I fought for that ... we've got to find (another) way to solve the problem."

Trustee Rick Roberts indicated at last month's meeting that he would support a ban, but changed his position after researching the issue more in depth.

"I also listened to the residents," Roberts said. "Everyone who spoke was against it, and that can't be ignored."

Trustee Jenni Konstanzer, a self-proclaimed military brat who enjoys shooting, said she asked Police Chief David Webb to look into crime in Hanover Park that involved an assault weapon. In the past seven years, there have been two incidents including one where a man went target shooting in his backyard.

"I'm not giving up my guns and I don't expect anybody else to give up theirs," Konstanzer said.

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