BY MARK HOSKINS
Last Monday saw a packed house during the county board meeting in Effingham. A ground-breaking resolution was passed by the county board, as the strongly republican county sent a message to Springfield.
The Effingham County board voted 8-1 to pass a resolution making the county a ‘sanctuary county’ for gun owners. This resolution essentially directs county employees to not enforce any new Illinois law that may “unconstitutionally restrict the Second Amendment.” The idea is borrowed from a similar resolution passed in Iroquois County in March.
Language within the resolution states, “If the Government of the State of Illinois shall infringe upon our inalienable rights granted by the second amendment, Effingham County shall become a ‘sanctuary county’ for all firearms.”
The measure was taken by the board in response to several proposed bills currently active in the General Assembly. Many of these bills have been labeled ‘common sense’ gun laws. Although many in Effingham county see them as a direct violation of second amendment rights.
“We are tired of the house and senate attacking our second amendment rights,” said county board member David Campbell, one of leaders of the push for ‘sanctuary’ status in the county. “I have gotten a lot of feedback from the community and people are worried about some upcoming state laws,” he added.
“Numerous bills coming through the Illinois General Assembly are slowly striping away our rights,” added Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler. “This is our way of letting them know that if they keep on this path, there will be push back by the people and counties of Southern Illinois.”
The story is gaining national news coverage as Effingham County has came to the spotlight in USA Today, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune as many other big time publications as the Associated Press as picked up the story. Kibler and Campbell even appeared on national television on Fox and Friends.
“We have received an outpouring of support… I believe many neighboring counties will follow our lead,” added Kibler. “The phrase ‘sanctuary county’ has gotten a lot of attention but we are re-appropriating the term for our own purpose.”
Although, not everyone supports this resolution. Karen Luchtefeld, of Altamont, was the lone county board member to vote against the measure, stating that ‘it was inappropriate for her make such a decision for her constituents.’
At the county board meeting last Monday, several community members spoke out against the resolution, suggesting that it is inviting potential trouble and violence into the communities within the county. The board was reminded by members of the public of mass tragedies that have been caused by automatic weapons in recent years such as the Newtown, Connecticut massacre.
The resolution is largely symbolic according to Kibler. “It’s a symbolic protest, that’s all it is, it really isn’t changing anything,” said the State’s Attorney.
It remains to be seen what impact this will have on law enforcement within the county, should the state General Assembly pass any legislation deemed to be unconstitutional by the county board and the sheriff’s office.
Effingham County Sheriff Dave Mahon has stated that he and his office will be checking with the State’s Attorney’s office and the legal counsel of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association before deciding on actions to take in regards to this new county measure.