Northbrook residents seek to tighten gun laws
Johannah Hebl, a Northbrook resident, concerned about gun control, visits with Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who also believes that something should be done about the issue. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Anti-Gun Violence Meeting
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17
Northbrook Methodist United Church
Corner of Western and Cherry Avenues
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:04PM
NORTHBROOK — A Northbrook resident no longer feels alone in her campaign to institute better gun controls in the village.
Johannah Hebl, a mother and an attorney, has asked both village and state representatives for discussion about more gun control before any more lives are lost.
She addressed the village board at its Jan. 8 meeting about the subject, as well as meeting with 57th District State Representative Elaine Nekritz, another Northbrook resident who has fought for increased gun control in the state.
Although Northbrook is not a high-crime area, Heble said she believes in being pro-active so that the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. – another community that never thought children and teachers could be gunned down in its midst – does not happen here. Northbrook and Newtown are similar in many ways, including income and education level. And Northbrook has mentally- troubled people just as Newtown does, Heble said.
“I’m not sure if it is because I have young children at a local elementary school or whether it’s the fact that the little boy killed, Noah Pozner, and I, share the same birthday of Nov. 20,” she added. “His mother spoke at his funeral about how she believed his presence ‘elevated the humanity’ of those around him. I’m pursuing a conversation about gun control, because I believe the time has come to elevate our humanity.”
Heble noted that Columbine residents killed Columbine students and teachers, a Tucson resident killed Tucson residents, and a Newtown resident killed Newtown children, teachers and staff.
“So when I ask myself how I can ensure that my children are safe, my first concern is the local community. If this community is safe, my children will be safe,” Hebl said.
She said that although residents of Chicago and a few suburbs must register guns in their communities, she could find no laws on Northbrook’s books requiring registration here.
Michael Shep, Northbrook Police Department supervisor of community relations, confirmed that Northbrook has no law requiring residents to register their guns with the village.
Another School District 28 resident, who is also concerned about gun safety, Susan Troester Kline, a lawyer, has called for residents to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Northbrook United Methodist Church to address what they can do to curb the risk of gun violence in the community.
“I think it’s necessary for us to examine any issues or loopholes to ensure optimal safety and health for our kids after Sandyhook,” Kline said. “We can’t be a community that prevents that. None can. But we have to be a community that says we tried our hardest for every single kid.”
“When I was having coffee at our local Starbucks on the way to work, a friend relayed a story about her son at Northbrook junior high,” Hebl said. He came home concerned, because one of his classmates told him that she sleeps with a 22 under her pillow. It is a disturbing story and I encouraged her to report this to the school. Whether it is true or not, it is reason for alarm,” Hebl added. “We sometimes turn away when we should report suspicious behavior. We may choose to buy a gun to feel safe and not lock it away from those who could cause harm to themselves or others.”
Hebl would like to see the village require gun registration; a safety class for adults who have guns, especially if children are in the house; and have schools discuss with students when its appropriate to report a threat to or from a student.
“I don’t think we can wait until the federal government acts, or even the state or county government,” Hebl said. “I truly believe that each and every community needs to come up with a plan.”
Although the Northbrook Star contacted all the village board members by email and phone for their opinions on the matter, only two chose to comment – Trustees Todd Heller and Robert Israel.
Trustees James Karagianis, A.C. Buehler III, Michael W. Scolaro, and Kathryn Ciesla did not respond, and President Sandra Frum, who did not attend that meeting, has been out of town since earlier that day.
Both Heller and Israel noted that Walmart, should it be approved to open up shop in the village, would not be allowed to sell or trade guns. And Israel stated that “discussion” does not mean action, adding that he would encourage true safety measures, but not the illusion of safety.
Nekritz, who has been passionate about gun control for years, was unable to get her latest effort passed. She had called for legislation expanding the statewide ban on the public sale of assault weapons to include all forms of semi-automatic weapons; an increase of state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms; and maintaining all state registration procedures and restrictions on possessing firearms.
“The legislature considered an assault ban that the governor has been pushing, but that didn’t get through the Senate in this lame duck session. The House didn’t take it up because the Senate had already left town,” Nekritz said.
“I can imagine that there will be some initiatives introduced again in the spring, because the governor doesn’t back down, and I think Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is very interested in that issue as well.”
Emanuel wants to widen the requirement for reporting the loss, theft, sale or transfer of firearms to gun owners throughout Cook County and increase the jail time for gun violations to stop the violence in Chicago, according to city reports.