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Kadner: Common sense misfires on weapons bans

Attorney Burt Odelsexits courtroom after Cook County Circuit judge ruled Rahm Emanuel met residency requirements run for mayor Chicago. |

Attorney Burt Odelson exits the courtroom after a Cook County Circuit judge ruled Rahm Emanuel met the residency requirements to run for mayor of Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 15, 2013 6:44AM



A loophole in the state’s new concealed-carry law allows some home-rule communities until July 19 to pass an assault weapons ban.

That may surprise people who thought the state Legislature killed that idea when it overrode a veto by Gov. Pat Quinn.

But there’s a 10-day window in the concealed-carry law that several home-rule communities, most notably Chicago, are trying to use to ban assault rifles.

In the south suburbs, one of those communities is Calumet City, which will hold a special session of its city council this week (a date has not been set).

Evergreen Park attorney Burton Odelson, the city attorney for Calumet City, is working on the language of the bill.

“I’m using the Chicago ordinance as a template,” Odelson said, “but also other ordinances from all over the country.

“There are a number of challenges in something like this. You’ve got to conform with state law, federal, make it practical for the local authority to enforce, but most of all keep it constitutional.”

The National Rifle Association, which has been very successful in filing legal challenges to gun bans across the country, is likely to file a lawsuit to prevent the local bans.

In fact, the NRA is promising to go to court to allow all firearm owner’s indentification card holders in Illinois to carry guns on the streets immediately, contending the state is intentionally dragging its feet in implementing the law it just passed.

“I’m sort of hoping Chicago will be the target of any NRA lawsuit,” Odelson said, “so (Calumet City) doesn’t have to pay the costs of such a legal battle.”

Homewood, Hazel Crest and Calumet Park are south suburbs that have banned assault weapons.

Gun advocates contend that such bans deprive law-abiding citizens of their constitutional rights, while criminals simply ignore the law.

“I really don’t have a good answer for that,” Odelson said. “That’s up to the elected officials in each town to determine. It’s what they consider best to protect their citizens.”

It doesn’t make sense to me to have a hodgepodge of laws that attempt to control weapons.

Chicago had a complete gun ban in place for years, but city officials complained it was never effective because street gang members bought large numbers of guns in the suburbs.

That should have surprised no one.

An assault weapon ban in Calumet City won’t stop a fellow in Chicago Heights from driving into the town with an AR-15 assault rifle.

It makes no sense. It’s not gun control, but political grandstanding.

As I have stated repeatedly in this column, the entire gun control debate is out of control.

Instead of focusing on the lawlessness and disregard for life that infect too much of the country, elected leaders keep debating what weapons should be banned, what kind of bullets shouldn’t be sold and how many bullets should be in an ammunition magazine.

As the pro gun forces are happy to point out, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of laws regulating guns in this country and punishing those who use them in a crime.

They often are not enforced, or if they are enforced, are not upheld in court.

Nevertheless, we have more people in prison than any other nation in the entire world.

We don’t need more reasons to toss people in prison.

We spend billions of dollars on law enforcement personnel, courtrooms, judges, lawyers, prisons and prison guards.

Yet people still don’t feel safe on the streets.

That’s why so many citizens demand the right to carry concealed weapons on their person when they leave their homes.

If there are going to be effective laws passed to control gun ownership, logic suggests they be passed at the federal level.

So long as the laws differ from state to state, local bans and restrictions will be ineffective.

Chicago’s ordinance goes into great detail on what the city considers an assault weapon.

I appreciate that because in previous conversations I’ve had with proponents of gun control, they really can’t define what they mean.

Often they say, “machine guns,” when that’s really not the issue at all.

The proposed Chicago ordinance reads, in part, that an assault weapon is:

“A semiautomatic rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has one or more of the following:

“A folding, telescoping or detachable stock.

“A handgun grip.

“A forward grip.

“A grenade flare or rocket launcher.

“A barrel shroud.”

It also defines an assault weapon as “a semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds ...”

And any semiautomatic version of an automatic rifle.

The ban includes certain kinds of semiautomatic handguns and semiautomatic shotguns that have features similar to those outlined in the definition of an assault rifle.

The proposed ordinance has a long list of specific weapons that would be outlawed under the ban.

My main complaint about all such “assault weapon” bans is that they never include guns such as the Glock 17, 19, 22 or 23, favorites of gangbangers and citizens in search of quality self-defense weapons.

These are the sort of guns you commonly see in Hollywood movies and TV crime shows.

You can shoot a lot of people with one of those guns in a short period of time, and handguns are used a lot more often in crimes than assault rifles.

But logic and common sense don’t really seem to matter on either side of the gun control debate.

The body count isn’t nearly as important as scoring political points, or raising campaign contributions.

There are millions of guns available and anyone can buy one in the United States, legally or illegally. They haven’t made the quality of life any better.

And they’re not going to disappear.



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