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State Rep. Ann Williams Aims to Ban Guns From Restaurants

By Patty Wetli | September 26, 2013 10:48am | Updated on September 26, 2013 10:49am
 State and local officials met with constituents at Meet Your Representatives Night, host by community organizations in Albany Park and Irving Park.
Meet Your Representatives Night
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ALBANY PARK — Illinois' concealed carry law bans guns from establishments that derive more than 50 percent of their business from alcohol sales. But people can get just as drunk, and make equally rash decisions, at restaurants that serve beer, wine and cocktails, said state Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

As such, Williams, who voted against concealed carry, announced she's introducing a bill that would ban guns from any establishment that serves alcohol.

The lawmaker appeared at "Meet Your Representatives Night" on Wednesday, hosted by a coalition of Albany Park and Irving Park community organizations.

State Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) joined Williams on a panel of state legislators and also stated her continued opposition to concealed carry.

"Do we want people going around not knowing who's carrying a gun?" asked Martinez, who added that she lost a family member to gun violence.

"It scares me. What will our city become?" she said.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy this week rejected using the Illinois National Guard or Illinois State Police to combat violence in Chicago, but Martinez said she would favor using state resources in the city. Martinez also said she supported a ban on assault weapons.

"We don't need that type of artillery out on the streets," she said. "I cannot believe that the gangs control the neighborhoods. It's out of control."

On pension reform and education, competing interests and politics have stymied previous reform bills, according to Williams.

"The blowing up of pensions and a failure to solve the problem benefits some people politically," she said.

The biggest stumbling block to reaching consensus: a tug-of-war between Chicago legislators and those from Downstate.

The state currently funds the pensions for teachers and university employees in every municipality except Chicago — Chicagoans, through income and sales tax, are in effect shouldering the burden for the entire state.

Legislators from Downstate want to retain this system while those representing Chicago districts would like to shift the pension costs to local taxing bodies.

"The fight is so intense on that," said Martinez.

Pension obligations limit the amount of resources for other priorities like education, the legislators said.

"Illinois does a poor job of funding education in an equitable way," said Williams. "Philosophically, we, as a society, agree to fund public education. But we don't do it right."

Rather than the current reliance on property taxes, she's in favor of a graduated income tax, though no bill is pending on the matter.

"Many of our very pro-business states have graduated taxes," she said.