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Waukegan Rejects Assault Weapons Ban

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) -- Waukegan declined to follow the lead of Highland Park and North Chicago on Monday, July 15, when the City Council voted unanimously against a proposed ban on assault weapons within its municipal limits.

Facing a state-mandated deadline for communities to adopt firearm regulations prior to the implementation of Illinois' new concealed-carry law, the council voted to follow overall state statute on firearms and not enact any extra measures.

Second Ward Ald. Thomas Koncan, chairing a Public Safety Committee that unanimously recommended against an assault-weapons ban, said he looked at the issue as "whether we're going to follow state law or whether we are going to have our own little kingdom and have our own laws regarding guns."

"I believe (a ban) would set up the city of Waukegan for lawsuits and would do nothing to deter crime," Koncan added, saying that "adding an assault-weapons ban in Waukegan would just create a patchwork around the state" with different laws in different communities.

"If someone (transporting a firearm) were to start at the state line and speed down Sheridan Road going 100 mph, if they got stopped anywhere like Waukegan or Zion, they'd get a speeding ticket," Koncan said. "If they got stopped in North Chicago, they'd get arrested for carrying a weapon that is banned."

Monday's action came a month after the council was presented with a measure that would have banned both assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines in the city limits. That June 17 proposal was pulled back and sent to the Public Safety Committee after several local residents expressed concern about the concept during the audience-comment period.

Mayor Wayne Motley told the council at the time that he was following the recommendation of city attorneys in bringing the proposal up for a vote, and he said Monday that he was satisfied that the matter was given a fair hearing.

"What I do agree with is that something had to be done," Motley said when asked if he agreed with the council's decision to forgo an assault-weapons ban. "I am a believer in the Second Amendment, but being from law enforcement, I've seen the havoc these weapons can do, so I see both sides of the issue."

Highland Park officials approved its ban on such assault weapons as AK-47s and AR-10s on June 24, using a Cook County measure as a template. The North Chicago City Council followed suit on July 1, voting unanimously to enact a similar assault-weapons ban that comes with the same maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for possession.

Waukegan's proposal was also based on the Cook County version, but council sentiment against local gun measures dates back to 2011, when aldermen voted 6-3 to repeal all local gun regulations in favor of state statutes. Monday saw aldermen echoing their past comments about possession of firearms.

"I'm concerned about the constitutional rights of our citizens," said 6th Ward Al. Larry TenPas. "The Constitution is pretty clear, in my mind, about the right to keep and bear arms."

"I agree with Ald. TenPas," Koncan said. "(We) should not put restrictions on the community."

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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