Tazewell County Board takes a stand on 2nd Amendment

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

Kenna Pope, center, of Washington was among those opposed to a Second Amendment rights referendum, as well as any sort of resolution by the Tazewell County Board. ”Simply let our representatives in Springfield do their jobs first, and if they do put through a law that decides to ban a very small amount of certain types of guns then let’s address that when it comes up,” Pope said at the June 27 board meeting. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller / for Chronicle Media)

A referendum to declare Tazewell County a Second Amendment sanctuary county will not be on the Nov. 6 ballot, though the board did approve a resolution in support of Second Amendment rights June 27.

“Becoming a sanctuary county would prohibit the police from enforcing laws that some consider unconstitutional,” Tazewell County Board Chairman David Zimmerman said. “We don’t have the authority to tell the sheriff or his deputies what laws they can or cannot enforce. They are sworn to uphold the laws.”

Sanctuary communities may choose not to enforce laws which are considered to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights. A resolution is a formal means of declaring clear and fixed resistance to legislation that may encroach on those rights.

“Be it resolved that the Tazewell County Board does hereby oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the people the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment,” the resolution, which passed Wednesday night, reads.

The county vowed, by resolution, to oppose restrictive legislation, and requested that the Illinois General Assembly cease all further action that restricts Second Amendment rights and demands the surrender of previously authorized firearms and paraphernalia.

“For instance, say you lawfully bought a 15-round magazine, then all of the sudden the General Assembly said it’s illegal to have a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds,” Zimmerman explained. “Are you automatically a criminal for something you lawfully bought? We’d like the General Assembly to stop passing gun laws that many perceive to be unconstitutional.

Kenna Pope of Washington took the podium to contest the passage of a referendum or resolution.

“There are some (firearms) that anyone can own for any reason. There are some you get to own if you follow certain regulations and get certified with training, and certain ones that you’re just flat-out not allowed to own,” Pope told the board, “and I think that should be true with a lot of different things.”

Pope asked the board to abandon “the idea of a referendum or resolution” claiming both were a waste of time and taxpayers’ resources.

“Why do we need a resolution to protect ourselves against a gun ban that doesn’t exist?” she said.

Recent measures by the General Assembly have raised concerns of Second Amendment advocates; H1467, would prohibit municipalities from regulating “the possession and ownership of assault weapons in a manner less restrictive than the regulation by the State.”

HB 1457 would make it illegal to sell .50 caliber rifles, cartridges or assault weapon attachments to anyone under the age of 21.

Both measures are seen by gun reform opponents as infringements on Second Amendment rights.

In April, Effingham County passed a resolution opposing those state proposals, and a number of other such restrictive House bills, and vowed to become a “sanctuary county for all firearms unconstitutionally prohibited by the government of the State of Illinois, in that, Effingham County will prohibit its employees from enforcement the unconstitutional actions of the state government.”

Other counties have since followed suit, including Jefferson, Clark and Iroquois counties. On June 19, the Woodford County Board resolved not to prosecute law-abiding gun owners for carrying concealed firearms.

Tazewell County Board District 3 representatives Mary Jo Holford and John Redlingshafer quietly discuss the county’s actions regarding Second Amendment rights as Brandon Hovey takes to the podium in support of a resolution at the June 27 board meeting. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller / for Chronicle Media)

A day later, the Madison County Board voted to place a non-binding referendum on the November ballot to become a sanctuary county.

“I was involved in starting the petition for the sanctuary. We talk about how laws are beautiful things,” said Tazewell County District 2 member Brandon Hovey.  He was elected in the March primary, but will be officially elected to the board as an uncontested candidate in November.

“The Second Amendment was meant to protect our First, Third, Fourth and our Bill of Rights. We’re here to protect real civil liberties with this resolution, and I implore the board to pass the resolution.”

The resolution did pass with an amendment proposed by District 2 member Timothy Neuhauser, who suggested the addition of the following paragraph: “And whereas the elected county board of Tazewell County shall support the office of Tazewell County sheriff, and the office of the Tazewell County States Attorney to uphold and enforce the sworn oath of office and the duties as described under the constitution of the state of Illinois and the United States Constitution.”

Copies of the resolution will be submitted to all members of the Illinois General Assembly and the Illinois Governor’s office.