130 sign up to speak: Naperville gun sale ban debate lingers deep into the night

  • An overflow crowd attends Tuesday's Naperville City Council meeting to weigh in on a proposed ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered rifles.

      An overflow crowd attends Tuesday's Naperville City Council meeting to weigh in on a proposed ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered rifles. Kevin Schmit | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville City Council members listen as a parade of more than 130 speakers give their thoughts on a proposed ban on the sale of certain high-powered rifles in the city.

      Naperville City Council members listen as a parade of more than 130 speakers give their thoughts on a proposed ban on the sale of certain high-powered rifles in the city. Kevin Schmit | Staff Photographer

  • Community members gather outside the Naperville Municipal Center to oppose an ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered weapons in the city.

      Community members gather outside the Naperville Municipal Center to oppose an ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered weapons in the city. Kevin Schmit | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/18/2022 10:42 AM

Naperville community members debated deep into Tuesday night as the city council prepared to vote on an ordinance banning the sale of certain high-powered rifles.

More than 130 people on both sides of the issue signed up to speak at Tuesday's meeting, but as of 9:30 p.m., only 25 had taken their turn at the podium. Meanwhile, the city council members waited their turn to voice their opinions and eventually cast their votes.

 

"I think it's clear by now there is no community in America that is protected from gun violence, so we need to do something to safeguard and protect our community," speaker Amanda Caverzasi said. "And it starts by passing this ban."

The city is considering the restrictions in the wake of recent mass shootings in Highland Park, Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y.

The ordinance would affect two gun stores in the city -- Range USA and Law Weapons and Supply -- in addition to other local licensed sellers such as pawnshops. Private sales of the weapons would not be prohibited, and residents would not be blocked from owning them.

"We as a gun community are going to show up, speak up, stand up for our values and our rights," speaker Pip Tegtmeyer said. "We will continue to show up every time an ordinance gets put on an agenda."

To bridge the gap between the two sides, Mayor Steve Chirico offered compromises at last month's city council meeting that are included in the new version of the ordinance.

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The concessions, however, did little to soothe the many people who spoke Tuesday in opposition of the ordinance.

"It was very clear from the last city council meeting that the firearms knowledge on the city council is lacking," said Felix Rivera, an instructor at Range USA. "Passing ordinances on something that you are not 100% on is simply ignorant."

According to the proposed ordinance, the sale of certain high-powered rifles would be banned in the city except for sales to federal, state or local law enforcement agencies and officers. The exception also would apply to sales to the U.S. military, including the Illinois National Guard.

A ban on the sale of certain semi-automatic handguns was part of the original ordinance. But handguns were removed from a three-page list of weapons that now features rifles only. High-capacity magazines for handguns also were removed from the sale ban list.

"Gun violence is a public health and safety issue," speaker Susan Craighead said. "This common sense ordinance represents an important step in helping us live peacefully and without fear."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If approved, the ordinance would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Violations would incur a $1,000 fine for the first offense and subsequent fines of $2,500.

Before the parade of speakers began Tuesday night, Chirico acknowledged the divisiveness of the issue and the difficulty in reaching a consensus.

"We want everyone involved to speak freely without feeling intimidated, regardless of which side you're on," Chirico said. "It's important that we treat everyone respectfully and with courtesy."

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