Highland Park mayor urges support for statewide assault weapons ban

Nancy Rotering spoke Friday to the Lake County Board in Waukegan.

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Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, seen here last month during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, spoke to the Lake County Board on Friday about the need for a statewide ban on assault weapons.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, seen here last month during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, spoke to the Lake County Board on Friday about the need for a statewide ban on assault weapons.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty file

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering urged the Lake County Board to support a statewide ban on assault weapons during a wide-ranging discussion Friday about gun violence and how to curb it.

“I know that restricting access to assault weapons does not stop all gun violence, but banning weapons of war is one commonsense step we can take. It is worth it even if just one life is saved. I am sickened that my town, and you should be sickened that our county, like so many others, has been added to an ongoing list of places where mass shootings have happened — a list that should not even exist,” Rotering said, a little more than a month after the Highland Park parade shootings that left seven dead.

Rotering, who testified last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a federal assault weapons ban, lamented what she said was a lost opportunity when Highland Park’s 2013 ordinance outlawing assault weapons didn’t lead to a statewide ban.

“We are now pursuing those legislative initiatives, but a message needs to be sent that we need help,” Rotering said. “A single city or county cannot protect its residents because they are not islands within the state. Our law reflected our community’s values, and we did what was feasible under existing law at that time. What community doesn’t value public safety and protecting human life?”

The board is expected to vote on a resolution in favor of the statewide ban at its meeting Aug. 9.

The resolution appeared to have broad support from board members who spoke Friday, although member Dick Barr said tackling gun violence means listening to all stakeholders — including those who fiercely defend the Second Amendment.

“No one on that side that I’ve ever spoken to has ever said, well, it’s OK that children are being killed,” Barr said. “They’re saying it’s a tragedy that children are killed using fundamental rights; however, that fundamental right is necessary for the protection of our society.”

Barr said mental illness is the common link in mass shootings.

“If we’re not addressing the root cause to this evil, we’re not doing anything,” he said.

Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart responded, “Mental health issues exist around the world. But it is a uniquely American problem to have mass murders.”

Rotering also talked about how her community is healing a month after the shootings.

“Our recovery will be awkward, and it may be daunting as we approach milestones and transitions individually and as a community, including how we acknowledge day, month, and year remembrances, the changes in seasons, annual events, holidays, and more. The unknown is uncomfortable, but we know that we are not alone in our hesitation,” she said.

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