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Ban on guns in Chicago restaurants that serve booze advances

Todd Vandermyde with NRA shows off gun butt stock during House Committee hearing assault weapons Illinois State Capitol Springfield Ill.

Todd Vandermyde with the NRA shows off a gun butt stock during a House Committee hearing on assault weapons at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Ill. last year. (AP File Photo/Seth Perlman)

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Updated: October 8, 2013 6:09AM

Chicago restaurants that serve liquor would have to ban firearms or risk losing their city licenses — under a crackdown advanced Friday in an end-around the state’s new concealed-carry law.

Arguing that “booze and bullets don’t mix,” the City Council’s Finance Committee did what Gov. Pat Quinn tried to do in his amendatory veto of the concealed carry bill, only to be overridden by a defiant General Assembly.

The ordinance championed by Finance Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) and downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) would exempt stores that sell packaged liquor.

But, all other establishments that serve alcohol — not just bars that generate more than half their revenue from liquor — would be required to prohibit firearms on the premises.

Those that refuse and fail to post signs near their entrances declaring their establishments gun-free zones could be stripped of their licenses to do business in Chicago.

“The City Council believes that booze and bullets don’t mix,” Burke said.

“Just as driving and drinking don’t mix, it’s not a good idea for people to be armed in premises where they’re consuming alcoholic beverages.”

Todd Vandermyde, legislative liason for the National Rifle Association (NRA), warned that the Legislature “reserved for itself and exclusively for itself the ability to regulate who can, where and how carry a concealed handgun” in Illinois.

The Burke-Reilly ordinance is “beyond the scope” of the City Council’s authority, Vandermyde said.

“The issue of booze and bullets is a red herring. While it’s a wonderful sound bite, the issue is about being able to go to a restaurant and enjoy the dinner or a meal with your family, with friends and not have to surrender or remove your firearm,” Vandermyde said.

“It’s not about intoxication. It’s not about having a drink. If you’re intoxicated under the act, it is a crime. It carries the same penalties as if you’re caught driving a vehicle under the influence.”

Vandermyde accused aldermen of creating “two classes of citizens” by allowing retired law enforcement officers to carry their weapons into restaurants. Owners and tenants would also be exempt, under the ordinance.

“Retired peace officers will be able to sit down at the table next to you or your wife and they’ll be able to have firearms with them. They’re now a special privileged class,” he said.

“My life — the life of my family — is not worth protecting when I’m trying to get to and from a restaurant? I watch the news reports about the wildings and the attacks taking place in downtown bus districts. A lot of other people do, too. Why are we supposed to be second-class citizens put at a disadvantage because somebody doesn’t like the law that was passed?”

The Finance Committee also approved a watered down plan to seize the wheels of motorists who open their windows and dump their trash on Chicago streets.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed off on the controversial anti-littering crackdown after its sponsor, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), agreed to soften the ordinance considerably.

Instead of towing every vehicle used for the driver-version of fly-dumping, Chicago Police would have the “discretion” to tow. And instead of dramatically increasing the fines — to $1,500-a-pop — Brookins agreed to raise the minimum fine from $50 to $150. The maximum fine would be $1,500, but that would not be the penalty for every littering motorist.

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