Deerfield, Illinois Banned Assault Weapons & The Punishment For Keeping Them Is No Joke

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Owners of assault rifles in one Illinois town will need to sell or relocate those weapons ASAP. A local village board voted unanimously Monday to ban assault rifles in Deerfield, Illinois, as well as high-capacity magazines — and they're planning to heavily fine residents who don't comply.

Deerfield outlawed weapons with recognizable names like the AK-47 and the AR-15, for example, but they didn't stop there. The ordinance lists over a dozen other weapons specifically, and its language ("shall include but not be limited to") is intentionally crafted to sweep any oversights up into the ban as well. The town is also putting an outright ban on high-capacity magazines, defined as a magazine that can hold more than 10 ammunition rounds.

The ordinance lists several findings as reason for the ban, including the use of assault weapons in an "alarming number of notorious mass shooting incidents at public schools, public venues, places of worship and place of public accommodation." Deerfield officials reference the Parkland shooting, specifically.

Fines for noncompliance with the ban can range from $250 to a hefty $1,000 a day, and will continue until the resident follows the new ordinance. It will go into effect on June 13.

Steve Sadin reported in The Chicago Tribune that "the trustees had virtually no debate Monday night." But of the 70 residents who showed up for the meeting, not all were happy about the change in policy.

Although he's not a Deerfield resident, Joel Siegel, a local of nearby Lincolnwood, said: "There’s an ancient and honored American tradition called disobeying an unjust law." He followed that up by encouraging those who disagreed with the new ordinance to "listen to your conscience" and disregard the law if they found it to be a problem.

But there were others who voiced their support for the change in Deerfield, including high school student Ariella Kharasch. She called the movement for gun control "our generation's fight."

In a press release issued by the Village of Deerfield's management office, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal is quoted as saying, "We hope that our local decision helps spur state and national leaders to take steps to make our communities safer."

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Deerfield isn't the first town to pass such a ban. Highland Park, just a few miles away, passed something akin to the Deerfield ordinance five years ago.

Predictably, Highland Park faced opposition in court on the grounds that their gun restrictions were unconstitutional. However, in December 2015, the Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge, which effectively handed the victory to the city's assault rifle ban.

There may be similar pushback on Deerfield following the ordinance. The Chicago Tribune reported that a resident of Deerfield who sits on the board of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said the city should prepare itself for a lawsuit. But the city is confident that what happened in Highland Park bodes well for them, too.

CBS Chicago reports that resident Andrew Toban said it is "very heartening to know the village is standing at the forefront of something that is an imperative in front of our nation." But another resident, Daniel Easterday, pointed out that Deerfield is already an exceptionally safe place to live. "I don’t see how this is going to make it any more crime free," he said.

Clearly, the residents of Deerfield are not in total agreement on the issue — much like the rest of the country.