Arlington Heights residents call for tighter gun control

In the wake of the recent Florida school shooting, Arlington Heights residents packed the village boardroom Monday night to call on their elected officials to endorse tighter gun control measures.

Dozens of residents, many holding signs saying "Our One Job Is To Keep All Kids Safe," showed up to the regularly scheduled village board meeting after organizing over the weekend on Facebook.

"No one's trying to take people's guns away, but we can increase regulations and take care of our children," said parent Lisa Bernstein, one of nine people to speak during the board's public comment period.

Other speakers included former Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliott Hartstein and 27th District Democratic state Senate candidates Ann Gillespie and Joe Sonnefeldt.

Specifically, all asked Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes and village trustees to sign their names to a letter in support of pending legislation in the Illinois House that would require state licensing of gun stores and background checks of store employees, among other requirements. The bill passed the Senate last April.

At least six trustees said Monday they support sending a letter to local state representatives, including David Harris and Tom Morrison. Hayes said he's not opposed but wanted to further explore the content of the legislation.

"One of our primary obligations - if not our primary - is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the community," Hayes said. "I agree with the signs. Our job is to keep our kids safe. We will do anything and everything in our power to impact that in the village of Arlington Heights."

To that point, Hayes said that after the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17, he asked Village Manager Randy Recklaus to improve local safety measures already in place and institute new ones.

Recklaus said the police and fire departments regularly plan and train for school shootings, officers respond and investigate reports of threats or suspicious people near schools, and many schools have panic buttons that provide a direct connection to the village's 911 center.

Among new programs being considered, Recklaus said, is providing special training for police in how to deal with individuals in crisis situations. Another effort is training paramedics to treat and remove victims during an active shooter scene.

"The presence of these measures doesn't end this discussion but hopefully can provide some peace of mind that the village of Arlington Heights takes this very, very seriously," Recklaus said.

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