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City drops gun ban to resolve suit

Evanston aldermen approved revisions to the city’s gun control ordinance tonight designed to bring it in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The National Rifle Association sued Evanston and other Illinois communities with gun bans after the court ruled in June that a gun ban in Washington, D.C., is unconstitutional.

In response the city’s legal staff drafted a new ordinance that would let most residents keep guns in their homes, but ban possession of most guns by minors and of all guns by narcotics addicts, mental patients, the mentally retarded and persons under 21 years of age with criminal records.

Despite pleas from gun control advocates at the council’s last meeting to stiffen the ordinance, the version the council adopted tonight is identical to the one proposed by the city’s legal staff.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said in support of the decision to modify the ordinance that the city of Chicago, which so far has refused to modify its gun ban "is starting to see that they could spend the entire city budget defending the ordinance if they leave it alone."

The revision of the Evanston ordinance is expected to lead to the dismissal of the NRA suit against the city.

City attorney Elke Tober-Purze said that the ordinance does not include several issues that are covered under state criminal statutes.

"Criminal charges should be prosecuted under state law," Tober-Purze said, "They do fingerprinting and create a criminal record. I don’t think you want to prosecute felons under a local ordinance."

Rainey suggested that the city might want to consider printing the names of all those who have state firearms cards in the local paper.

"Do you want your grandchild going to visit someone who has a gun?" Rainey asked. But no action was taken on that suggestion.

Police Chief Richard Eddington said he would recommend against establishing a local registration program for firearms owners. He said the cost of the program couldn’t be justified under the city’s tight budget. In addition, Eddington said, the registration program would depend on everybody telling the truth, "which in my professional opinion isn’t always true."

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