Handgun ruling to affect Oak Park ban

June 28, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Proponents of gun rights are already filing lawsuits challenging handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park.

West suburban Oak Park first approved a ban on hand guns more than 25 years ago.

The president of Oak Park and Mayor Daley talked by phone about what it means and the Supreme Court ruling will have the very same effect in both communities, despite Oak Park having 53,000 residents and Chicago with 2.5 million.

The ban will be gone. People will be able to legally own and possess handguns in both places. The question is: under what new terms?

Regardless of what new restrictions are set, the history won't change.

It was the courtroom slaughter of a Cook County judge and a prominent attorney, James Piszczor, in 1983 that was the final blow to handgun rights in Piszczor's hometown of Oak Park.

Piszczor's widow led the charge to ban handguns in Oak Park. And despite contentious opposition from some residents and gun organizations, it passed the village board in 1984.

More than 25 years later, in an exclusive interview Monday with the I-Team, Maureen Piszczor talked about the gun ban being thrown out.

"Very disappointed. It brings back a lot of memories and a lot of home, so I still believe Oak Park will find a way to reenact the ban that will eventually hold," said Maureen Piszczor.

One of the primary opponents of Oak Oark's law told the I-Team Monday he hoped this day would come.

"It sends a message that our citizens have the right and freedom to bear arms. Whether it is for defense or recreation, we need to remove ourselves from statistics and get our God-given right," said Isaih Stroud.

Oak Park's president says the handgun ban has reduced overall crime the past five years, although police report armed robberies up sharply in the past year.

A memo obtained by the I-Team outlines Oak Park's possible response to the elimination of its gun ban. Legislative ideas include a handgun registry and required safety courses for owners as well as gun storage requirements. Also, educational ideas include help for prospective gun buyers in choosing the correct weapon for home defense.

"We have to look closely at the ruling to see what is permissible and likely to be permissible going forward with regulations regarding handgun usage an access are one piece of the puzzle in preserving public safety," said David Pope, Oak Park village president.

Gun stores and shooting ranges will still not be allowed in Oak Park. Those retail gun regulations have been upheld by the Supreme Court. But the closest gun store to Oak Park reported a steady flow of phone calls from prospective buyers Monday afternoon.

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