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Gun rights supporters reject proposed assault weapons ban

Waukegan mayor Wayne Motley

Waukegan mayor Wayne Motley

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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:30AM

A proposal to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines in the city limits was tabled by Mayor Wayne Motley on Monday, June 17, after more than a half-dozen supporters of gun rights voiced objections before the City Council.

“We believe very strongly in our Second Amendment rights,” said Chestnut Avenue resident Edward Nazarin, describing himself as “a proud member of the NRA” and a past victim of assault who supports concealed carry of firearms.

“This is a very slippery slope,” added Nazarin. “I don’t mean to be threatening in that manner, but the Illinois State Rifle Association has prepared (litigation) they will file immediately if there’s any assault ban, and they will name not only the city but other individuals here present at this table.”

Another Chestnut Avenue resident, Ray Georges, told the council that he feels Waukegan residents need protection from “these criminals we’ve got running around on our (streets) preying upon us.”

“If you are going to pass any kind of regulation, (you) are doing an injustice to women and old people,” said Georges, a retired dentist, adding that a semi-automatic rifle like the AR-15 “is an extremely accurate weapon, and women can handle that weapon safely” to defend themselves.

The proposal posted on Monday’s council agenda emerged as Gov. Pat Quinn mulls whether or not to sign a concealed-carry bill that passed through the General Assembly this spring. That measure would also prohibit future assault-weapon bans, and it gives home-rule communities like Waukegan 10 days from Quinn’s signature to put such a ban in place.

After nine different speakers — including residents from Antioch and Round Lake — entered opposition to a Waukegan ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, Motley told the gathering that he put the proposals on the agenda for legal reasons.

“I’ve heard your words tonight. I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment to the Constitution,” Motley said, “(but) it would have been irresponsible of me as mayor to not bring this to council.

“I was notified by the governor’s office that this was something they recommended we do prior to the (concealed-carry) passage,” Motley added. “I had a long conversation with our corporation counsel about this issue, and we agreed to bring it before the City Council.”

Motley then sent the matter to the Public Safety Committee for review. The committee’s chairman, 2nd Ward Ald. Thomas Koncan, echoed past comments in support of gun rights and questioned Springfield’s motives in putting an assault-weapons provision in the concealed-carry bill.

“What I think they did was they would have liked to pass an assault-weapons ban in the state and they knew they couldn’t get it through, so what they’re doing is asking the local communities to do it for them,” Koncan said. “They didn’t have the guts to pass something the whole state could live with.”

Koncan added that municipalities would be “setting themselves up for lawsuits” if they passed a ban, but he said “as a Public Safety Committee, we will look this over. We will do our jobs and take the steps necessary to act upon this.”

Quinn has until July 9 to sign the bill, though word spread Monday that Attorney General Lisa Madigan was asking the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the deadline to July 24. The City Council next meets on July 1, and a Public Safety meeting could be scheduled prior to that session.

Third Ward Ald. Gregory Moisio also signaled his opposition to a local assault-weapons ban, saying “I think this issue is a lot bigger than a municipal issue.”

“I don’t know why something like this would even come to a home-rule community. Whether you’re pro-gun or against guns, it’s just not practical,” Moisio said. “Obviously, from all the people who have spoken, (this) is a contentious issue, and they say ‘within 10 days, you’ve got to make a decision.’ I mean, that’s ludicrous.”

Fourth Ward Ald. Harold Beadling told the room that “this ordinance bans almost every firearm that I own. I don’t think we had to bring it to the council. I think it’s wrong.”

“The Second Amendment is there to protect us from the tyranny of government,” added Beadling, drawing applause from the crowd after saying that the federal government “is getting way too big. (You) can’t turn on the TV without hearing ‘the federal government this, the federal government that.’ I think it’s time that they get pared back.”

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