Highland Park mayor calls on Lake County Board to support ban on high-powered weapons

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering called on the Lake County Board to support a ban on high-powered guns and large-capacity magazines, saying to do so would be another step forward in saving lives, during a meeting on gun violence Friday morning.

"I am sickened that my town, and you should be sickened that our county, like so many others, has been added to an ongoing list of places where mass shootings have happened - a list that should not even exist," Rotering said.

Rotering addressed the board during a committee of the whole meeting Friday morning dedicated to the subject of gun violence. A gunman with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at her town's July 4 parade, killing seven and hurting about 50.

The board on Tuesday will consider adding their support for a state and federal ban on what are being called assault weapons, as well as safe storage requirements and FOID reform to Lake County's legislative agenda.

Board member Paul Frank, whose district includes Highland Park, said while the board doesn't have legal authority to ban weapons, members could add their voice by passing the resolution Tuesday.

"To say there's nothing we can do and this is just the situation we're in is absolutely the wrong answer," said Frank, who was at the July 4 parade staging area with his family when the shooting happened.

Board member Dick Barr said he does not support weapon bans and said some could argue that a localized ban may make the community more susceptible to a negative outcome.

"We are in a society where were seeing more and more nonsensical violence, period," Barr said. "There appears to be a decay in man's humanity toward man. There's more a common denominator we need to identify."

Several board members expressed concern that gun violence has been getting worse and affecting more and more county residents.

"It ripples throughout the entire area, and it really impacts how we as individuals spend our time and government agencies spend their money," Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart said. "I think it impacts a sense of community."

Others who addressed the board during the three-hour meeting were North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham; Chris Patterson, the assistant secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services' Office of Firearm Violence Prevention; and Sara Knizhnik, chair of the Lake County state's attorney's office's Gun Violence Prevention Initiative.

Knizhnik, who also is running for a board seat in November, said changing any gun law has an effect on gun culture, which she said needs to change before the problem gets better.

"If we don't all start making this issue central to how we vote, how we talk to our neighbors, how we talk to our friends and our family members, then what happened in Highland Park is going to keep happening," Knizhnik said. "Then what happens every day in Zion is just going to keep happening. We must change the culture and everybody can be a part of that process."

The county board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

• Daily Herald senior staff writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report

Sandy Hart
Paul Frank
Dick Barr
Sara Frederick Knizhnik
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