Right to bear arms; crowd packs Putnam County meeting to encourage board to protect 2nd Amendment

Board passes resolution, but lawyer says it doesn’t do enough

HENNEPIN — The Putnam County Board’s March meeting was a full house as a crowd of gun rights advocates packed the gallery over a proposed Second Amendment resolution.

A Lake Thunderbird lawyer wants Putnam County Board to protect its residents from what he called a tyrannical government takeover of Second Amendment rights by declaring the county a Second Amendment sanctuary. His demands are, in part, the board empower the sheriff to arrest any federal agents that may show up to confiscate weapons from citizens.

Jeffrey Purtell distributed a letter prior to the meeting in which he informed residents he had presented the board on Dec. 14 with a resolution to declare the county as a Second Amendment sanctuary county, to which he said the board did not respond.

Board Chairman Charlie Lenkaitis opened the meeting with a reading of a resolution drafted by the board with assistance from Putnam County State’s Attorney Christina (Judd) Mennie stating the board officially opposes anything passed by the General Assembly restricting or changing Second Amendment rights.

“We have two Democrats and one Republican on the board,“ Lenkaitis said. “And we will never vote partisan lines, we will govern by what’s right for our county of 6,006 residents.”

While the resolution was met with applause, and some parts of the crowd disbursed after the reading, Purtell rushed to round some of those who were leaving, telling them the resolution “didn’t actually protect their rights.”

Purtell gave a lengthy summary of House Bill 127, a bill introduced by a Texas Democrat that would enact licensing and registration of firearms in addition to limitations on certain gun possessions.

“House Bill 127 is an aggressive act of tyranny that infringes on Second Amendment right to bear arms,“ Purtell said. “Americans are under attack right now from a tyrannical government.”

Purtell said among other provisions of the bill, which still is in the introductory stage, will establish a database that would “allow criminals to know where your guns are.”

During Purtell’s reading of the bill, board member Tony Rue, who attended the meeting virtually, pointed out that the board had indeed passed a resolution to protect the constitution, asking could Purtell agree they had passed what he was asking for, to which Purtell disagreed.

Rue pointed out that the house bill was online and available for everyone in attendance to read, saying he preferred constituents read for themselves rather than hearing it through the lens of one person. He proposed putting the discussion on next month’s agenda so residents could research the bill and reconvene — a request that didn’t go over well with the crowd.

“I have to assume that people are here because they’re interested in it so they’re familiar with what’s in it,“ Rue added, but several people in attendance said they didn’t know what was in the bill and wanted Purtell to continue reading it at the meeting.

Lenkaitis cut in, saying the legal teeth is the constitution, which they are supporting through the resolution, but Purtell countered saying “they” are trying to circumnavigate the constitution.

“Keep in mind it is the sworn duty of the sheriff and state’s attorney to uphold the constitution of the state of Illinois,” Lenkaitis said. “Any changes to any amendments will be so followed.

“Moreover, this county board will always recognize the constitution a rule of the land,” he continued. “We will always do what’s best for the 6,006 residents of Putnam County and we will never govern out of fear. Common sense must rule the day.”

Mennie said the county cannot make a resolution that supersedes federal law.

Purtell told the board he’ll only be satisfied with a resolution that promises to overthrow any federal attempts to infringe on the Second Amendment, including overriding any federal agent’s attempts to take residents’ guns.

“This means if any federal authorities come in here to Putnam County, the sheriff should override them and arrest the federal agents for infringing,” Purtell said.