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Homewood, Hazel Crest ban assault guns

Updated: August 11, 2013 6:50AM



Homewood trustees voted Tuesday night to prohibit assault weapons in the village, taking advantage of a provision in Illinois’ new concealed-carry law that allows towns to ban the powerful guns within 10 days of the law going into effect.

“This is an opportunity for us to state who we are and what we value for the community,” Trustee Anne Colton said. “My Homewood, the Homewood I am raising my three beautiful children in, doesn’t need assault weapons.”

Under the ordinance, approved by a 5-0 vote, anyone in the village with an assault rifle has 90 days to either remove it from the village limits, alter the weapon to make it permanently inoperable or turn it over to police for disposal. Anyone who violates the ordinance faces a fine of from $100 to $750.

Also Tuesday night, Hazel Crest trustees passed a similar ordinance against assault weapons.

A federal appeals court ruled in December that Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed handguns in public was unconstitutional and gave the Legislature until Tuesday to adopt a law allowing it.

In May, the House and Senate passed by large margins a concealed-carry law, but Quinn last week issued an amendatory veto, making several changes to the law. Among them were limiting to one the number of guns a person can carry and prohibiting concealed weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol.

But, as expected, the Legislature overrode the veto Tuesday, finalizing the law that makes Illinois the 50th state to allow its citizens to legally carry a concealed handgun.

About 20 people showed up at the Homewood Village Board meeting to speak about the issue.

Resident Debbie Hart, 52, said she heard about the meeting on the news hours before it began and wished trustees would’ve given residents more notice prior to voting on such a sensitive issue.

“It’s the wrong way to go about passing this, and that’s my beef,” Hart said.

Brian Miller, 44, said after the meeting that the village ordinance prohibits him from keeping his shotgun because it holds more than five rounds. He claimed it would keep him from enjoying his hobby — competitive marksmanship and skeet shooting.

“It’s about the freedom to own the gun you want to own,” said Miller, a U.S. Navy veteran. “I signed up for fighting for freedom, and I don’t think I would see it go down the toilet like this. My home is for sale in Homewood.”

Larry Garth 60, said he supported the ban because he has a grandson living in Chicago’s gang-ridden Englewood community who has seen friends killed by gun violence.

“People have the right to bear arms because it is part of the Constitution,” Garth said. “You’re not going hunting with assault weapons for that very reason. They aren’t designed for sportsmanship.”

In Hazel Crest, two residents opposed the measure, with Lee Harrington saying he was sorry to see freedoms being diminished and arguing that a ban doesn’t protect anyone from criminals.

“It was wrong to do this. If somebody wants to hurt somebody, they’re going to do it anyway,” he said.

A woman who would not give her name told the village board, “Let the gangbangers take over. They’ve already got the town.”

Mayor Vernard Alsberry Jr. said he understood the concerns but that in the wake of school shootings across the country, the board’s action reflected the realities of a changing world.

“We live in a different time. ... People are different now. We have to understand that. We have to protect not only ourselves but our children,” Alsberry said.

Contributing: Ginger Brashinger



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