The Highland Park City Council on Monday unanimously called for state and national bans on semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and body armor, escalating the gun control advocacy some city officials have pursued after the deadly mass shooting at the suburb’s Independence Day parade.
The north suburb has had its own ban on assault-style weapons since 2013, enacted in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, but Mayor Nancy Rotering said a local ordinance is not enough to blunt the threat.
“Mass shootings are a uniquely American problem and Highland Park is not an island,” she said. “No community is safe until broader action is taken.”
She noted that the Lake County Board last week voted in favor of advocating for an assault weapons ban, a safe firearm storage law and reforms to the Illinois Firearm Owner Identification card approval process.
Highland Park’s resolution asks the state and federal governments to ban the manufacture, purchase, sale, possession and use of all semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition cartridges and magazines and body armor, exempting law enforcement officers and the military.
It also seeks strengthened background checks, “red flag” laws, waiting periods and age requirements, and the elimination of exceptions to those requirements.
In addition, it calls for higher penalties for straw buyers and those who sell to them, mandatory safe storage of firearms and the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law that gives gun manufacturers and dealers broad immunity from lawsuits. Highland Park officials have said they are researching potential litigation.
Finally, the resolution asks the state to make more comprehensive use of “clear and present danger” reports from police when reviewing applications for gun permits — an issue that has arisen with accused parade shooter Robert E. “Bobby” Crimo III.
Highland Park police investigated an allegation that Crimo, now 21, threatened people at his house, and officers were concerned enough to confiscate knives, a dagger and a sword. They relayed their report to the Illinois State Police, but a state trooper who reviewed it found no reason to designate Crimo as a clear and present danger.
When Crimo did apply for a gun permit months later, the record had been destroyed. He was granted the permit and allegedly went on to buy the high-powered rifle used in the Independence Day massacre.
Authorities say Crimo fired more than 80 shots at paradegoers from a rooftop perch. Seven people were killed and dozens were wounded.
Crimo, who is being held without bail, has been charged with 117 felony counts in Lake County Circuit Court. He faces a life sentence if found guilty of first-degree murder.
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Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has announced the formation of a working group devoted to firearm safety and reform. Advocates are also pushing for a special legislative session to address gun issues, but state leaders have yet to set a date.
Just before Highland Park’s vote, four residents spoke in favor of the city’s ordinance, including a mother who said she had just bought bulletproof backpacks for her two young children before they head off to school.
Student Rachel Jacoby, a member of Generation Z, said she has undergone mass shooting drills since the age of 5 and instinctively knew what to do when the shooting broke out at the parade.
That should not be viewed as normal, she said.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “We all deserve to live in a country where guns aren’t the leading cause of death for children. We deserve to go to school and focus on learning without the fear of being hunted by weapons of war. We deserve a future free of gun violence. … Vote like your lives depend on it, because ours do.”