Wilmette becomes latest North Shore town to urge state lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws
Wilmette Trustee Peter Barrow’s statement of assent was part of the Village Board’s unanimous approval on Tuesday, Sept. 13, of a resolution encouraging the Illinois General Assembly to address gun violence and firearm safety.
As part of the resolution (full text on Page 298 here), the board is asking for a statewide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, improvements to the identification and disarming of dangerous individuals, and stronger regulations relating to firearm storage, among other requests.
Prior to discussion of the measure, Village President Senta Plunkett read a list of gun-violence statistics — which included that more than 300 mass shootings have occurred in the United States this year and that gun violence is the leading cause of death among children (2020) — that she said informed the board’s decision to develop a resolution.
“(Gun violence) is not a national phenomenon that just is. This is something as a society we have allowed to happen and we as a society will have to choose if we want to change it,” Trustee Justin Sheperd said. “And we cannot be under the illusion that it can’t happen here.”
Mass shootings have happened here — at Hubbard Woods School in 1988, when several were shot and one killed; and during a Highland Park parade on July 4, 2022, when dozens were shot and seven killed. The latter attack has pushed several local communities to act in the fight against gun violence.
The City Council of Highland Park, a town that already has an assault-weapons ban, passed a resolution in August that is similar to Wilmette’s. Winnetka’s council held a special listening session on Aug. 10 to listen to residents’ ideas on local gun safety and regulation. The Village of Glencoe Board is hosting a similar session Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Illinois municipalities are restricted from passing many gun-safety laws, including a ban on assault weapons, thanks to state legislation passed in 2013; however, if a municipality passed gun laws prior to or within 10 days of the state law’s passage, it can enforce and amend those laws. Winnetka and Highland Park are among the towns that fit that criteria; Wilmette is not, according to village documents.
The Village of Wilmette reviewed firearm regulations in 2019 to identify its options and took the following actions: prohibited concealed carry of firearms in local businesses that have a liquor license; offered stickers to local establishments that wanted to prohibit concealed carry of firearms; and enhanced the promotion of the Village’s firearm-safety programs.
During the meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13, several members of the public spoke, all of them affiliated with a local chapter of Moms Demand Action, which advocates for gun-safety measures.
After the resolution was passed, Village attorney Jeffrey Stein said it will be passed to the state legislators who represent Wilmette. They include: Ill. Sen. Laura Fine and Reps. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and Robyn Gabel.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319