Deerfield says ‘no’ to assault weapons

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

The unanimous 6-0 vote has taken its toll in the form of verbal opposition and offensive phone calls to the Deerfield Village Hall, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal, and village trustees. (Photo courtesy of village of Deerfield)

While the issue of banning assault weapons has largely been relegated to a subject for debate by the federal and state legislatures, the Lake County municipality of Deerfield took a bold step forward. The Village Board passed an ordinance that essentially blocks the sale, transportation, and possession of semi-automatic weapons within its boundaries, during its April 2 meeting.

The ordinance, which will take effect June 13 amends the village code regarding the safe storage and the transportation of assault weapons to regulate the manufacture and sale of those weapons, along with any other semi-automatic weapons that accept large capacity magazines. The 13-page ordinance also defines types of semi-automatic weapons that are banned, and their accompanying ammunition.

The unanimous 6-0 vote has taken its toll in the form of verbal opposition and offensive phone calls to the Deerfield Village Hall, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal, and village trustees. Requests for comment by Rosenthal, and village officials, have been referred to the municipal website, and no further statements on the issue are being made.

In the wake of the action, the Chatsworth-based Illinois State Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, and a Deerfield resident, Daniel Easterday, entered into a civil lawsuit April 5 as plaintiffs seeking an injunction against the ordinance approved by Deerfield. The litigation was filed with the Lake County 19th Judicial Circuit Court. 

Through a news release, SAF Founder and Executive Vice-President Alan M. Gottlieb, stated, “We moved swiftly to challenge this gun ban because it flies in the face of state law. While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans the possession of legally owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense.”

The ordinance’s language extends to rifles, shotguns, and pistols that act as a semi-automatic weapon, and the equipment that converts any weapon into a semi-automatic one. The latter provision includes bump stocks, which replace a standard gunstock against the shoulder for rapid firing and absorption of the weapon’s recoil.

Penalties for violations of the ordinance range from $250-$1,000 per offense. Disposing of the weapon is mandated within 60 days of the June 13 effectuation date, and involves modifying the weapon to make it inoperable, or surrendering it. It does not otherwise regulate or prohibit rifles, shotguns, pistols or ammunition, according to the village website.

The ordinance’s shape began Feb. 20, when Rosenthal requested a feasibility report from Village Attorney Matthew Rose on implementing a ban on assault weapons in Deerfield, after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland

“Over four years ago, the state gave home-rule communities a window of time to pass some type of assault weapon law with the understanding (that) it could be revisited at a later date,” said Rosenthal, in an April 3 press release. “I believe the time has come to revisit a complete ban on assault weapons.”

“We hope our local decision helps spur state and national leaders to take steps to make our communities safer.”

In a separate release, municipal officials stated, “The Village of Deerfield has received the suit filed April 5 concerning the ordinance…banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines. The village believes it acted within its statutory authority and will be evaluating the suit in order to respond appropriately. No additional statements will be made on this pending litigation at this time.”

As of press deadline, no hearing date has been entered for the civil lawsuit.


Deerfield says ‘no’ to assault weapons–