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Berwyn drops proposal to amend assault gun ordinance

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013 1:50 p.m. CDT

BERWYN – An effort to pass a stricter ordinance banning assault guns in the city was not necessarily shot down when the Berwyn City Council met July 10. Instead of going out with a bang, it died with a whimper.

An amendment to stiffen the city's existing ordinance, which called for adding numerous restrictions to the city's current ban, has been taken off the table for consideration.

About 35 people attended the Committee of the Whole meeting July 10. With the exception of a few, all those attending, including residents and people from as a close as Riverside and as far away as Westmont, came to voice their opposition to amending the city's standing ordinance.

The proposed changes to the ban came on the heals of a bill to allow concealed carry in Illinois, the last of the 50 states to do so. The new law also preempts local municipalities from passing local gun laws. However, legislators threw in a condition to the new law stating that assault gun bans already codified, or those passed within 10 day's after the concealed carry bill was signed into law, would remain enforceable.

The existing ordinance was drafted in November 1994 in response to a Cook County ordinance that 1,200 signers of a petition deemed to be "intrusive and arbitrary." according to Berwyn resident John Borgeaud, who helped in drafting the city's original ordinance.

The existing ordinance, Borgeaud said, already bans true assault weapons, regulates and protects legitimate firearms dealers from county interference, and assures Second Amendment rights to law-abiding Berwyn resdents in harmony with federal and state law.

Borgeaud summed up his view of the issue as, If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

"Our current ordinance has served us well for over 20 years," he said. "There is no compelling need to change it now."

Oak Park resident Christine Fenno, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action For Guns Sense in America took the other side of the issue at the meeting.

"These weapons are being aggressively marketed, and they will only grow in popularity when sellers and buyers see local leaders shrugging off the presence of these weapons on our streets," she said. "By showing leadership on this, you signal to the metro region that Berwyn is family friendly, not gun-crazy."

Borgeaud said strict gun laws have frustrated law-abiding gun owners for years: such laws affect the wrong people.

"The ordinance would not be a deterrent to [criminals such] as gang bangers. Criminal lowlifes and the insane do not care about or obey laws," he said. "The only ones actually affected by this proposed ordinance would be hundreds of law-abiding firearms owners ... "

There was little discussion of the issue among council members at the meeting. The council did not vote on the amendment to the ordinance on July 10, and the issue was not raised again before the 10-day window passed.

Currently, Berwyn's original assault gun ban stands as it was written in 1994.

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