In the wake of national, student-led protests in favor of stricter U.S. gun laws, including large-scale student walkouts at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South high schools and Maple School – the Northbrook Board of Trustees is taking steps to ban assault weapons and bump stocks within the village.
The board discussed options for enacting the ban at its April 10 meeting, where 26 members of the public spoke out — some in favor and some against tighter controls.
The board directed village staff to draft an ordinance banning possession of bump stocks and trigger cranks, as well as large capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and amending the village’s liquor code to prohibit concealed-carry firearms in businesses with liquor licenses.
Those documents will be presented to the board at a May 22 meeting when trustees are likely to take a vote.
The board also will begin researching legal options to ban assault weapons in the village, and it will commence studying the Cook County assault weapons ordinance to determine how it might be enforced in Northbrook.
Northbrook’s move comes shortly after officials in Deerfield made national news when they unanimously passed an ordinance on April 2 banning the possession, sale and manufacture of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, similar to a measure enacted in Highland Park in 2013.
The Deerfield ordinance will go into effect June 13, when residents of that village must remove their guns from the village limits or face up to $1,000 per day in fines.
As DailyNorthShore reported on December 7, 2015, the Highland Park ordinance had its genesis with the Illinois’ Firearm Concealed Carry Act – an amendment to the Illinois Firearms Owners Identification Card – which passed on July 9, 2013, making regulation and possession of assault weapons the exclusive jurisdiction of the State of Illinois.
However, the legislation contained a grandfather clause, giving 20 home rule communities such as Highland Park, Deerfield and Northbrook 10 days to ban assault weapons or lose those rights to the state, according to Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering. Any municipal assault weapon ban passed before the 2013 state legislation would also be upheld.
Highland Park met the day 10-day deadline with a full ban on assault weapons, but Deerfield took a modified approach, choosing instead to enact an ordinance defining assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and regulating their storage. Enacting this measure within the 10-day grandfather clause gave Deerfield the legal right to take a further step on April 2 with an assault weapons ban.
Lake Forest considered a ban but elected not to act, according to local news reports.
Northbrook also declined to take action in 2013, instead “relying on the state’s declaration that it was going to regulate assault weapons,” said Northbrook village attorney Steve Elrod, who spoke at length at the village board meeting.
At present, the State of Illinois does not restrict the sale or possession of firearms that have been defined as assault weapons, or of high capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Although Northbrook has municipal ordinances that regulate firearms, they cannot be amended because the village did not take action in 2013, said Elrod.
“The municipal authority to adopt an assault weapons ban in Illinois is limited by the state legislature,” said Elrod.
Northbrook must now research alternative legal options for enforcing an assault weapons ban.
Unlike Deerfield and Highland Park, which are located in Lake County, Northbrook is located entirely in Cook County.
Elrod suggested Northbrook take preliminary action to enforce the assault weapons ban in Northbrook based on the applicability of a Cook County assault weapons ban on the books for almost 25 years. That ban is enforced by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the second largest sheriff’s office in the United States.
“Northbrook does not have the same right as Highland Park and Deerfield,” said Elrod, “but Northbrook is located entirely in Cook County, which adopted an assault weapons ban in 1994.”
A ban on assault weapons in Northbrook may prove even more complicated, according to WBBM News Radio’s online coverage of the story. Northbrook is home to Optics Planet, a leading online retailer of AR-15 accessories and “bump stocks” that can make them operate faster.
Because Optics Planet is based in Northbrook, but only sells online, the gun retailer is not required to obtain a local business license, said the radio station.