EFFINGHAM — Declaring Effingham County a sanctuary for gun owners, the county board on Monday directed its employees not to enforce any new Illinois law that would "unconstitutionally restrict the Second Amendment."
The action is largely symbolic, according to Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler. He said the resolution, adopted by an 8-1 vote, will not control the decision making in the sheriff's office.
Sheriff Dave Mahon agreed that it was a county board decision and would not control his office.
Mahon said that if such a potentially unconstitutional law were to be passed by the state, he would consult with the state's attorney and the legal counsel of the Illinois Sheriff's Association before deciding what actions to take.
The sole "no" vote came from Karen Luchtefeld, who said after the board meeting that she objected on several levels.
For one, she thought it was inappropriate for her to make such a decision for the people who voted for her. Instead, the people should contact their state and federal legislators directly, she said.
She said she supports "common sense" gun control reforms. She highlighted the destructive distinction between a musket capable of firing three times in a minute, against a 30-round magazine on a modern rifle.
The meeting was one of the most attended for the board this term, with about 70 people present. Five people spoke to the board on the issue, three of them opposed in particular to the sanctuary county provision.
Dan Niebrugge, a pediatric physician, said his pride in Effingham's contributions turned to embarrassment when he heard the county was considering "sanctuary" status for gun owners.
Mike Sehy said he was concerned that this would encourage people with assault-style weapons to move to the area.
Sehy said the decision made him realize that the recent First Communion he attended for a grandchild could turn into massacre like Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adult staff were shot and killed.
The one person to speak in support was John Haslett, who focused on the attention paid to the AR-15 and the comparative rarity of the shootings by lawful gun owners. He argued that far more people die from tobacco and alcohol use than are killed by people who legally own guns.
"We, as a society, need to stop thinking about things that don't matter," Haslett said.
The resolution also opposed a number of bills currently active at the General Assembly, including one vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that would have required additional registration for gun shops.
Graham Milldrum can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org