Nearly 40 residents speak about McHenry County resolution denouncing state gun ban

Resolution will move to full board despite concerns about ‘inflammatory’ language

People listen to public comment at the McHenry County Law and Government Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the McHenry County Administration Building. The committee held a public comment period before it considered a resolution to oppose Illinois' newest gun ban and support its repeal.

A resolution opposing the new Illinois gun ban is set to be considered by the McHenry County Board, but changes to the measure are almost certain to come, officials said.

The resolution, which would affirm McHenry County’s stance against House Bill 5471, would not make the county a gun sanctuary as some have pushed for but does denounce the new law, calling it unconstitutional and a violation of the Second Amendment.

At the county’s Law and Government Committee meeting on Tuesday, more than 100 residents showed up, with nearly 40 of them speaking. As has been the case with previous meetings where this topic was discussed, those who spoke were divided on the topic.

The resolution did not get enough votes on Tuesday to be recommended as written, with the committee split in a 3-3 vote.

However, the resolution will still move on to the full County Board where it will be considered in a part of the agenda that will open it up for more discussion instead of the consent agenda where items are voted en masse and typically without discussion.

The gun ban, passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in early January, bans more than 100 different guns from being purchased, most of which are semi-automatic rifles, along with different attachments and caps the amount of ammunition certain guns can have.

It also creates a requirement that owners of the newly banned guns eventually register them with the Illinois State Police.

Mark Wood addresses McHenry County's Law and Government Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the McHenry County Administration Building. The committee held a public comment period before it considered a resolution to oppose Illinois' newest gun ban and support its repeal.

Cary resident Russell Friend, who was among those in favor of the resolution denouncing the new law, said the gun ban will do nothing to help gun violence and instead will deprive people of their rights.

Fox River Grove resident Jamie Milton said the nation is “at the precipice of losing freedom and tyranny is at the door.”

“What side of history will you be on?” Milton asked the committee members.

Crystal Lake resident Katherine Rosch was among those opposing the resolution, saying it could weaken gun laws and invite similar mass shootings into the community.

Ed Gogol, also of Crystal Lake, said the Second Amendment was never intended to offer unfettered access to guns. He said he also agrees with the ammunition cap included in the law, which includes 10 rounds on long guns and 15 rounds on pistols.

“You can have as many [15-round pistols] as you want,” he said. “That seems plenty to me for self-defense.”

The resolution considered Tuesday was drafted by County Board member Eric Hendricks, R-Lake in the Hills.

He told the Northwest Herald he didn’t intend the resolution to be a gun sanctuary measure, though some members of the public and the Republican Party of McHenry County have been pushing for one.

Illinois has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but it’s not helping the state’s gun deaths, Hendricks said during the meeting.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “[The law] won’t achieve anything.”

Some members of the committee, including County Board members Kelli Wegener, D-Crystal Lake, and Carolyn Campbell, D-Crystal Lake, said they felt the language of the resolution was too “inflammatory.”

Campbell said she supported gun ownership but doesn’t feel like it’s the county’s job to interpret the constitution and instead has a duty to uphold the laws on the books.

“I don’t have the authority to determine if this is constitutional or not,” Campbell said.

Committee Chairman Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, said she was nervous about the resolution’s tenor too as it’s different than previous ones approved by the board.

Some committee members also raised concerns about a clause that asks the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office to keep track of expenses associated with enforcing the law.

County Administrator Peter Austin said at the meeting doing so would be a departure of how things are typically done and could be seen as encroaching on other elected officials.

In addition to the resolution being considered, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. Other lawsuits throughout the state – including one with a McHenry County gun shop on board – seek similar outcomes.

Tuesday’s meeting also follows a statement by McHenry County Sheriff Robb Tadelman saying neither he or other deputies would enforce the registration provision of the bill. He joined roughly 80 other sheriffs in Illinois in making the declaration.

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