SPRINGFIELD/CHICAGO (Heartland Newsfeed) — Several rural counties in Illinois are taking a stand for gun rights by utilizing a word that conservatives associate with liberal policies as an attempt to skirt the law: sanctuary.
Five counties at minimum have recently passed resolutions declaring themselves as sanctuary counties for gun owners. It is a reference to Chicago, which has become a sanctuary city that doesn’t cooperate with aspects of immigration enforcement from the Federal government.
These resolutions are intended to put the Democratic Party-controlled General Assembly on notice that if it passes a plethora of gun bills, which includes new age restrictions for certain weapons, a bump stock ban and a size limit for gun magazines, these counties will prevent gun retailers and their employees from enforcing the new laws.
“It’s a buzzword, a word that really gets attention. With all these sanctuary cities, we just decided to turn it around to protect our Second Amendment rights,” said David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board. Campbell noted that a minimum of 20 additional counties in Illinois, as well as local governmental officials in Oregon and Washington, have requested copies of the Effingham County resolution.
County officials do fear their state legislators will be unable to stop the passage of said gun restrictions because they are outnumbered by Chicagoland lawmakers, including Chicago, where more than 650 homicides last year happened as a result of gun violence, usually attributed to gang violence and the drug war.
Utilizing the sanctuary title is also a way of drawing attention to the political divide between rural and urban voters that were so stark in the 2016 general election, as well as the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary. Voters in most of the state south of Interstate 80 backed New York businessman Donald Trump (and remains popular with those voters),
“We’re just stealing the language that sanctuary cities use,” explained Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler, who came up with the idea.
Not lost in their minds are that Chicagoland lawmakers were instrumental in turning the entire state of Illinois into what is derisively called a “sanctuary state”, passing legislation last fall prohibiting law enforcement from arresting or detaining people solely on their immigration status, usually directed toward those whose work visas and green cards have expired or are in the United States illegally. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law soon afterward, sparking much ire from conservatives.
“They are trying to make a point that they really resent how the city of Chicago treats the rest of the state and how they’re treated as gun owners,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
The resolutions, a way for communities where guns are cherished and where hunting is a way of life, are largely symbolic to prove a point that the greater majority of restrictions on guns are unconstitutional and in violation of the Second Amendment.
“We wanted to … get across that our Second Amendment rights are slowly being stripped away,” Kibler said.
Dave Workman, a representative of the Second Amendment Foundation based in Bellevue, Wash., see something more in the resolutions.
“It’s like a warning shot across somebody’s bow,” said Workman, who cites Oregon’s Deschutes County as an example of implementing a similar resolution. “If you’ve got four or five counties telling Chicago something, that’s significant.”
State Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), a sponsor of some of the proposed gun legislation, cites some worries about such resolutions, which she considers defiant of state governmental authority.
“I don’t think you can say, ‘I don’t agree with the law so I won’t enforce it,’” she said. “I think it sends the wrong message.”
Kibler states that the resolutions will deliver the same message of defiance to state government-imposed laws, much like Chicago’s refusal to cooperate with Federal immigration authorities. He won’t speculate as to how he’d deal with the new restrictions that haven’t been signed into law, but cited that legislators need to understand that ‘if you pass it, we might not pay attention to it.’
Kibler also pointed out that county prosecutors already have a lot of discretion, citing an example where he already gave a gun owner a break. He dismissed charges against a man for openly carrying a gun inside a vehicle, who came to Illinois (where it is currently not legal to openly carry, also known as constitutional carry) from Mississippi (where it is illegal to carry openly).
“The guy had no (criminal) history and he had it on the side of the front seat of his car in a sack, so I dismissed it,” he said.
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