Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 10:00 PM
Any Oak Parkers who want to have a say on how the village regulates guns in the future will get their chance later this month.
The Oak Park Board of Health, a citizens advisory panel, is hosting a forum on Jan. 24 to gather input from residents on guns. Oak Park's decades-long handgun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court in mid-2010, and a gun store recently opened in the village, making the timing right for a community conversation.
"We want to hear from citizens about their thoughts and ideas as to how firearms should be regulated in the village of Oak Park," said Margaret Provost-Fyfe.
A couple of years ago, the health board came up with a list of possible actions that the community could take in the event that the handgun was banned. And with the recent opening of Windy City Firearms on Roosevelt Road, village trustees asked the health board to host the forum to start the ball rolling toward possible action.
The Jan. 24 meeting will give each participant three minutes to speak. The health board will then draft recommendations and forward them to the board for future discussion at an undetermined date.
Village President David Pope said he's anxious to hear what might be suggested.
"I think we're all going to look forward to what comes back from the board of health in determining what steps, if any, should be pursued at that point," Pope said.
Following the June 2010 ruling, Oak Park tweaked its handgun ban, allowing people to carry firearms in their place of business or home, while still prohibiting assault weapons.
Some ideas from the health board's 2010 report included starting a handgun registry, holding safety courses and requiring owners to securely store their handguns. Oak Park may also explore zoning regulations related to gun stores, according to Simone Boutet, the acting village attorney.
David Schweig, a 75-year-old Oak Parker who fought the village's handgun ban in the 1980s, hopes that forum is balanced and fair.
"The overwhelming majority of the people who come to these hearings are on my side of the issue, and they refuse to be silenced or shushed," he said.
Oak Park also had signs up banning nuclear weapons within city limits back in the 1970's. It's difficult to find references to that on the internet, but here's an anecdote: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/oak-park-city-limits/2010/07/oak-park-follows-supreme-courts-rulingthank-goodness.html