Illinois Counties Declare Themselves ‘Gun Sanctuaries'; Oregon Voters Could be Next

Illinois Counties Declare Themselves ‘Gun Sanctuaries'; Oregon Voters Could be Next
Gun-rights advocates march to the state capitol as part of the Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day on April 25, 2018, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Sarah Zimmerman)

David Campbell is one of the people who started the gun sanctuary movement that is moving into Oregon after sweeping through the rural counties of Illinois.

Campbell, a member of the Effingham County Board in rural Illinois, wasn’t happy to learn the state’s General Assembly was working on gun-control legislation that he considered to be unconstitutional. Campbell decided to do what county board members do best.

He wrote a resolution.

The Effingham board adopted his resolution April 16. It declared Effingham County to be a gun “sanctuary” where county employees — like sheriff’s deputies — were prohibited from enforcing gun laws deemed unconstitutional.

WCRB-TV reported Campbell admitted to local prosecutor Bryan Kibler that he chose the word “sanctuary” because it was being used by more liberal government bodies, like the Chicago City Council, to protect illegal immigrants.

“Rural areas are losing political power because of population decline, and urban and suburban communities want to come up with solutions to gun violence that infringe on the ways of life of rural areas, and that ticks us off,” Kibler said.

Among the new gun laws moving through the Illinois legislature in May was House Bill 2354, which would allow police to take firearms away from people who are thought to be a danger to themselves or others. It is on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk awaiting his signature.

“In far too many mass shooting events, family members identified disturbing behavior in their loved ones and didn’t know where to turn,” said state Sen. Julie Morrison (D). “In some cases, when this behavior was reported, there was no legal mechanism to step in and prevent potential tragedy.”

Another bill awaiting Rauner’s signature would require Illinois gun dealers to be certified by the state.

And the Illinois House has approved a bill that would impose a 72-hour “cooling-off period” on all gun purchases.

Campbell is not the only rural Illinois resident unhappy with Springfield lawmakers telling the rest of the state how to live.

The Bloomington Pantagraph reported last month that more than a dozen areas in Illinois, including Effingham County, had approved “gun sanctuary” laws. “I am so proud of these counties that have stepped forward, that I am about ready to explode,” Campbell told Cam & Co. on NRATV.

Campbell said gun-rights groups and politicians in 50 Illinois counties had asked for copies of his resolution.

Shelby County, Ill., could be the next to declare itself to be a gun sanctuary.

John Warren, a Shelby County resident and gun owner, asked his county board to back the move in part because of the new gun-control legislation approved by the Illinois Legislature.

“Our general assemblies are wanting to regulate, regulate, regulate,” Warren said.

Aaron Barringer teaches kids how to shoot at the Shelby County Junior Sports Club. He also supports the idea of standing up to gun-controlling legislators.

“If they don’t do something, they are eventually going to get to where these kids can’t shoot,” Barringer said.

George Mocsary, an assistant law professor at Southern Illinois University, said county gun sanctuary resolutions are a protest against the feeling that Cook County and Illinois officials are trying to solve the Windy City’s murder problem at the expense of rural Illinois.

“There’s an attitude and opinion around here that Cook County shouldn’t come over here and start restricting our rights,” Mocsary said. “It should focus on keeping its own house in order, and if it can’t, it shouldn’t impose rules on parts of the state that have nothing to do with what’s going on there.”

Illinois state Rep. Kathleen Willis (D), who sponsored HB 2354, the so-called “red-flag bill” that allows for the confiscation of guns, doesn’t like the gun sanctuary movement’s attitude.

“I don’t think you can say, ‘I don’t agree with the law so I won’t enforce it,’” Willis told AP. “I think it sends the wrong message.”

Campbell said in addition to requests from like-minded people in 50 Illinois counties, he’s received requests for copies of his proposal from gun-rights believers in 10 states.

Oregon is on that list.

Gun-rights activists in 10 counties in Oregon are trying to put proposals on their local November ballots that would allow county sheriffs to ignore any gun law they decide to be unconstitutional.

Four counties in Oregon already have similar laws in place. The motivation is the same as what drives the Illinois gun sanctuary movement.

“We are all feeding off each other,” said Rob Taylor, one of the leaders of the Oregon campaign. “We feel our life is ruled by the bigger cities. Their vote always overrides the rest of us.”

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