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Questions from aldermen about proposed amendments to the City’s weapons ordinance led to postponement of the vote to amend the ordinance, scheduled for the July 28 City Council meeting, until at least the Aug. 11 meeting.
The Council directed the City’s law department to draft an ordinance that would comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision Heller v. District of Columbia, which held that Washington, D.C.’s ban on the private possession of handguns was unconstitutional. Evanston’s present weapons ordinance similarly bans the possession of handguns in the City by civilians, with certain exceptions, such as antique guns and starter pistols.
The day after the Heller decision was rendered, the National Rifle Association sued Evanston, seeking to overturn the ordinance.
As proposed, the amended ordinance would allow residents to possess handguns in the City only if they are kept solely at the owner’s residence for “self-protection.” Owners would also be required to have for each weapon a “current and valid Firearm Owner’s Identification card issued by the State of Illinois.”
Under the proposed ordinance, a person would not be able to possess a handgun in Evanston if he or she
Is under 18 years of age “and [the] handgun is of a size that may be concealed on a person”
Is under 21 and has been convicted of a misdemeanor other than a traffic offense or has been adjudged delinquent
Is a narcotics addict
Has been a patient in a mental hospital within the past five years or
Is mentally retarded.
Police officers active and retired, members of the armed forces or reserves and certain private security personnel would be exempted from the prohibition against keeping the weapons outside of the residence.
At the Administration and Public Works Committee meeting on July 28, Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, questioned whether the proposed amendments, stating that handguns must be kept at home, was strong enough, since it did not expressly address carrying weapons into what the U.S. Supreme Court termed “sensitive areas,” such as courthouses and school buildings.
Elke Tober-Purze said she thought it was strong enough. Police Chief Richard Eddington said the State of Illinois’ ordinance on unlawful uses of weapons forbade carrying concealed weapons. He said the City could incorporate the terms of the state ordinance into the City’s ordinance.
During citizen comment at the July 28 City Council meeting, four persons, only one from Evanston, spoke about the proposed ordinance.
Joel Siegel of Wilmette, who said he was a member of North Suburban North Shore Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership, said his organization “welcomes the rescinding of the handgun ban, which will restore civil rights to Evanston.”
Jennifer Bishop Jenkins and Jeanie Bishop, whose sister was murdered several years ago in Winnetka by a New Trier High School student who, they said, used a legally owned weapon for the crime, urged the Council to keep its gun ban in place and litigate the issue.
Ms. Bishop referred to Evanston lawyer Nina Vinik of Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV), who, she said, is drafting model legislation in light of the Heller decision.
Susan Trishman of Evanston, who said she was a member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Million Mom March, asked the Council to keep the ban in place. “Our youth are scared already. … We need to protect them. We are not afraid of the NRA. …”
Ms. Vinik told the RoundTable LCAV is preparing a model ordinance that would strictly regulate the use of handguns. She said she has been in contact with City officials.