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More suburbs expected to repeal gun bans

July 25, 2008 3:47:38 PM PDT
More Chicago area communities are set to repeal their bans on handguns.This week, the village of Wilmette made the weapons legal once again. And soon history is about to be undone in another suburb.

Morton Grove, which was the first town in the country to institute a handgun ban, will rescind the measure next week. All of this follows a Supreme Court ruling that declared bans on handguns unconstitutional. But there are some communities, including Chicago, fighting efforts overturn the gun bans.

The village of Oak Park, west of Chicago is ignoring the Supreme Court decision in the Washington D.C. gun case and teaming up with the Daley administration to fight to keep its ban on handguns.

But Wilmette threw in the towel earlier this week. Evanston plans to repeal its ban Monday, and so does the village of Morton Grove, which passed the first ban in the country 27 years ago.

"I believe that the trustees and board of the town wanted to make a statement that they promoted handgun safety, and this was their way of doing it," said Terry Hoffman Liston, Morton Grove Village attorney.

The village of Morton Grove didn't have a problem with gun violence in 1981 or crime in general. In fact, the reason they passed the first handgun ban in the country was to keep the owner of a gun shop business from opening a store in their community.

But now, 27 years later, the village board is planning to repeal the ban Monday night because they're more worried about a mountain of legal bills if they fight to keep it. In the face of a Supreme Court precedent established last month in a Washington D.C. case than an outbreak of gun violence if they get rid of it.

"You spend legal costs when if it is important to you, and it is not an issue that we believe justifies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorney fees," Liston said.

"I don't think we would win so waste of tax dollars," said Alan Weinstein, Morton Grove resident.

But Morton Grove resident Marilena Duton disagrees.

"Even if it is for your own defense, it is dangerous," Duton said.

"It will never solve the issues of a community if there are more guns in homes," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

The city of Chicago is modifying its ban on handguns slightly but maintaining the teeth in the ordinance as the Daley administration prepares to fight the gun lobby all the way back to the Supreme Court. And they'll be joined by the village of Oak Park, which appears to be the only suburb that's not throwing in the towel, despite the Supreme Court ruling and the potential legal bills.

"The local officials have no other option, police officers have no other option than to deal with the issue today and tomorrow and that is to try to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe for everybody. The fewer guns there are out there, absolutely safer it those neighborhoods will be," said Tom Barwin, Oak Park village manager.

Barwin says a couple of lawyers in Oak Park have offered to handle the case pro bono. So there may not be a mountain of legal bills in that suburb. As for Chicago, taxpayers foot the bill for every legal battle. And this is no exception. Some lawyers believe the ruling in D.C., which is a federal jurisdiction. may not apply in chicago and other non-federal municipalities, but that question will also go back up to the Supreme Court in a year or two.


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