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Republicans want RI county declared gun sanctuary

Republicans want RI county declared gun sanctuary

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ROCK ISLAND — County Republicans want Rock Island County declared a gun sanctuary, exempting it from proposed legislation they feel would impose on their Second Amendment rights. 

Several gun-control bills are pending in the state legislature, including the Gun Dealer Licensing Bill and House Bill 1469, which bans the sale of body armor and high-capacity magazines to civilians. 

Rock Island County Republican Party Chairman Drue Mielke, who also is a member of the county governance, health and administration committee, attempted to have a resolution put on the committee agenda prior to Monday's meeting only to have his request denied.

Mielke alleged Committee Chair Brian Vyncke and County Board Chairman Richard Brunk refused to place the gun sanctuary resolution on the agenda.

"I think it should have been on the agenda," Mielke said. "This resolution is ... "

"I don't think we can discuss this if it's not on the agenda," Vyncke interjected. 

"We're not discussing it," Mielke said. "I guess I want to understand the process for getting something on the agenda."

Brunk told Mielke the process "has been the same the past seven years you and I have been on the county board. I did return your phone call when you tried to reach me.

"There are some concerns, which I am more than happy to discuss with you," Brunk said. "Please don't act like I didn't try to reach you."

Brunk told Mielke the process is to forward the item to Vyncke, who then will forward it to Brunk. Brunk told Mielke, however, that he had concerns with the resolution. 

"To infer that somehow it was just tossed aside, I think is not only not accurate, but not very professional," Brunk said. 

"I will ask it to be reconsidered and we will try this again next month," Mielke said. 

The resolution reads in part, "The people of Rock Island County, Illinois, do hereby oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms and consider such laws to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful legislative authority."

The resolution also demands the Illinois General Assembly cease further actions restricting the right of residents to keep and bear arms, and calls on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto all legislation that would restrict the right to keep and bear arms.

The resolution states that if Illinois law infringes upon Second Amendment rights, Rock Island County "shall become a sanctuary county for all firearms unconstitutionally prohibited by the government of Illinois, in that, Rock Island County will prohibit its employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state government."

Brunk said after the meeting the resolution asks the sheriff's department not to enforce any laws that infringe on any Second Amendment rights. 

"The county board has no authority ... I invite anyone to call the sheriff and ask him what his answer is going to be if the county board tries to direct him and his staff when it comes to his responsibilities," Brunk said. "It's a feel-good measure. It's the kind that can get us in trouble when it comes to state funding. If we start thumbing our noses at the state, there is probably some funding that can be hindered. 

"We have a very diverse community here in Rock Island County," Brunk said. "I think this is an action that could be seen as very racially divisive. I'm not going to put my name on it as chairman. If (Mielke) wants to stand up and try to force the issue, then he can stand there with his good name and make that argument." 

Vyncke said county Republicans were trying to preemptively pass the resolution before the state passes any of the proposed legislation. 

"I personally have no objection with (the resolution) coming to the committee," Vyncke said. "Anything like this needs to go through the state's attorney and the sheriff needs to weigh in on it before we consider passing it. It could put the county in a liable position and put us in opposition to what the sheriff wants to do."

Vyncke said Rock Island County is not a home-rule county and therefore, would have no authority to enforce decisions made by cities residing in the county. 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Russell Christ, Republican precinct committeeman for South Rock Island, voiced his support for the gun sanctuary resolution and introduced 86 signatures from residents also supporting the resolution. 

"I felt it was time to make this committee aware of the voters' concern from just one precinct committeeman," Christ said. "So imagine the number that would agree with the statements in this signed document from the remaining 119 precincts."


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