Our View: McHenry County Board discounts reasonable gun law

People watch as board members cast their votes on a resolution opposing the Illinois gun ban and supporting its repeal during the McHenry County Board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in the McHenry County Administration Building.

On Jan. 10, Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a ban on the purchase, sale and manufacture of high-powered semi-automatic weapons, .50-caliber rifles and ammunition and large-capacity magazines in the state while still allowing people who already own such weapons to keep them.

That’s an important point: If you own the weapon, no one is taking it away from you. And the new law follows other measures Illinois lawmakers have passed in recent years intended to make the state’s gun laws stricter. Those measures include a 2021 law seeking to expand background checks and bolster the system for prospective gun owners to obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification card.

The law bans and restricts over 100 different varieties of weapons, including guns that are semiautomatic or are modified. Those include Avtomat Kalashnikova, also known as AKs, and ArmaLites, also known as ARs. All Military Armament Corporation, also known as MACs, all Thompsons, all IZHMASH Saiga 12s and different UZI models are also banned.

The bill outlaws guns that have attached parts as well, including threaded barrels, flash suppressors, grenade launchers or other features that can be modified.

The law requires the owners of these weapons to register them. The registration system has not yet been created, but owners of these types of guns will have to register them with the Illinois State Police.

No protocol or procedures have been created yet for state police to enforce the bill’s provisions. Those rules will be drafted and then go before the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Firearm restraining orders, also known as “red flag laws,” can remove weapons or restrict an individual from acquiring such weapons for a limited period of time if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

The new law allows a restraining order to last for up to a year, up from six months. Such an order also is allowed to be renewed for an additional year, according to the law.

The law sounds like a common-sense approach to trying to prevent massacres such as what occurred in Highland Park last July 4 – in which seven people were killed and 48 injured – and attempting to keep high-powered semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of those who mean harm to innocent people. What’s wrong with that?

Well, a lot, according to the majority of the members of the McHenry County Board who on Tuesday voted 11-6 to oppose the state’s new gun law and approved a resolution outlining their concerns. Those voting against the resolution were the board’s five Democrats and Michael Skala, R-Huntley.

Given vocal opposition from citizens to the county board’s decision on Tuesday as well as during a county committee gathering last month, the resolution may not have support of the majority of county residents.

So, what’s this all about? Is this a grandstanding tactic meant to appeal to a boisterous segment of the McHenry County population? Are we experiencing one more example of opposition politics?

It appears so, unfortunately.

The law is heading to court as a minority of local lawmakers, prosecutors and sheriffs divided along party lines seek to have it declared unconstitutional.

But we ask the question again: What is wrong with a law designed to keep high powered semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of those who seek to do us harm and provide some measure to keep us safe?

Ask someone who’s lost a loved one to gun violence. See what they say.