Community members form group to lobby Northbrook to tighten gun laws
Northbrook resident Susan Troester leads a Northbrook Anti-Violence Initiative on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at Northbrook United Methodist Church. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 25, 2013 9:02AM
NORTHBROOK — The Northbrook Anti-Violence Initiative, a grass roots movement to prevent the tragedy of Sandyhook from happening here, has come up with measures the group would like to see enacted.
The group, which met Thursday at Northbrook United Methodist Church, consists of about 25 School District 28 parents, educators and other members of the community.
The discussion included asking the village to:
• maintain a handgun registry;
• require safety training for handgun possession;
• limit the ammunition a gun owner may stockpile;
• and require school and mental health professionals to inquire about patients’ access to guns.
“Anti-smoking, anti-drunk driving and seat belt campaigns were unheard of in the 1950s,” said Susan Troester Kline, a mother and attorney who led the discussion.
“I would like to rise above the politics that defines Washington, D.C., and maybe Illinois – but not us. I would like to keep a higher goal in mind.”
That goal would be to do everything possible to prevent violence in the community and especially to children, according to the conversation that followed.
The group discussed reaching the goal by limiting access to guns by those who would abuse them, as well as preparing school personnel to deal with different types of emergencies.
Ana Kollias, a mother, asked if teachers now are being trained to handle this kind of threat, as they were to handle severe weather emergencies. And several parents noted that they didn’t want that preparation to include guns in school.
Christopher L. Finch, principal of Westmoor Elementary School, and Sara Loeb, Communications Coordinator of School District 28, said that administrators were working with police and firefighters to add protective measures to the schools.
“It’s definitely at the forefront of what we are doing in the district, but it’s hard to know what to prepare for,” Finch said.
“For example, we talked about bullet-proof glass in the windows, but then firefighters couldn’t get in and students couldn’t get out in case of an emergency.”
Jennifer Brunning, another parent, noted that the issue starts before an attack takes place, because the accused shooter at Sandyhook had planned his actions and came prepared.
“They had to have had emergency drills and safety procedures at Sandyhook, and they didn’t help those kids killed in the classroom. We need to address real prevention,” she added.
Resident George Stutz told the group not to blame guns for what mental illness is doing.
“Everything we’ve seen is tied to mental illness, not guns. The key issue is our treatment of the mentally ill. These people are living in hell and we’re not doing anything for them,” Stutz said.
“We need to address involuntary incarceration of them for more than 90 days to protect them from themselves as much as us.”
Some parents noted that they felt their children were safer when police increased their presence outside Northbrook schools immediately after the Sandyhook incident.
But the police are not as noticeable now, probably due to the cost to the village budget, they added.
“If residents around here feel that a cop sitting in front of a school is a preventive measure,” said Brunning, “they will find a way to pay for it.”
The group plans to address the village board at its next meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12.