Small Towns Rebuff Springfield With Pro-Gun Resolutions | WGLT

Small Towns Rebuff Springfield With Pro-Gun Resolutions

Jun 7, 2018

Opposition to new firearm restrictions has sparked a second small town in central Illinois to consider a resolution inspired by several so-called gun sanctuaries.

The Farmer City Council passed its Firearm Rights Resolution on May 21. In Carlock in McLean County, Mayor Jeremiah Houston said he’s considering bringing a similar resolution to his village board in the next two months. 

“It tells the Illinois legislature that we’re pleased with what we currently have for gun laws, and we don’t think we need any other restriction beyond what we already have,” said Farmer City Mayor Scott Kelley, noting existing state law on background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases.

"We don't think we need any other restriction beyond what we already have."

At least five rural counties have recently passed similar gun-rights resolutions, with most declaring themselves sanctuary counties for gun owners. Farmer City officials were inspired by those counties, Kelley said.

The Farmer City resolution cites, among other things, the “economic benefit from all safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting, and shooting.” There are several gun ranges in the Farmer City area, Kelley said.

The resolution says the Farmer City council “opposes the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms and consider such laws to be unconstitutional.

“Myself as a gun owner, and many people in this town are gun owners and big advocates of firearms, we just thought it was something we should do for our town,” Kelley said.

If the state infringes on the Second Amendment, Farmer City “shall become a sanctuary city for all firearms unconstitutionally prohibited” and “will prohibit its employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state government," the resolution reads.

Despite that language, Kelley said the Farmer City resolution is largely symbolic, like in the five counties. The Farmer City Police Department will continue to carry out all laws as it did before, Kelley said.

The Carlock area has one of the highest gun-ownership rates in McLean County. Around 35 percent of residents in the 61725 ZIP code (which includes Carlock) have a firearm owners identification (FOID) card—about double the average for McLean County, according to Illinois State Police data.

“I’m not really sure why we need more gun restrictions,” Houston said. “It’s not the weapon that kills people. It’s just an object. It’s the people that make the poor choices.”

Houston said he sees parallels between gun sanctuary communities and those like the Town of Normal that have passed Welcoming Community ordinances on immigration. A similar Welcoming City ordinance is being considered in Bloomington.

“When we overstep the boundaries of federal laws … I’m just not understanding why we create a Welcoming ordinance, but it’s not OK to have a gun ordinance in place to protect a citizen’s constitutional right. I’m just not understanding why we’re overstepping the police powers when they have their own job to do, with the federal government versus the state,” Houston said.

State lawmakers discussed several new proposed gun restrictions this year.

One measure (SB 3256) would require a 72-hour waiting period on all gun purchases, including long guns, instead of just handguns. It also eliminates the exemption from the waiting period requirements for the sale of a firearm to a nonresident of Illinois while at a firearm showing or display recognized by the Illinois State Police. The bill has passed and has been sent to the governor.

Another measure (HB 2354) would allow family members or law enforcement personnel to seek an emergency “firearms restraining order” to remove firearms from individuals posing an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. It’s also passed both the House and Senate.

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