Mercer County Courthouse

Mercer County Courthouse

ALEDO — The Mercer County Board passed a resolution Thursday night making the county the 30th gun sanctuary county in Illinois.

With a full approval of the board, the resolution opposes any state attempt to infringe on the rights of its residents to “bear arms.” The resolution deemed any such legislation currently being considered by the state “to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful legislative authority.”

Mercer County Board member Brian Anseeuw, R-New Windsor, said the language in the resolution already has been approved in 29 other counties, as well as two cities.

“We’re telling the state they cannot pass laws that impinge on our Second Amendment rights,” he said.

After the vote, an an audience of about 15 people loudly clapped in support. Absent from Thursday’s meeting were Chris DeFreize, R-New Boston, and Ronald Fullerlove, R-Sherrard.

The resolution demands the Illinois General Assembly “cease further actions restricting the right to keep and bear arms” and demands the governor to veto all such legislation.

If the governor does sign such legislation, the resolution states, Mercer County will prohibit its employees from enforcing the action.

The resolution took issue with a number of state House and Senate bills that would require individuals to surrender lawfully owned firearms, or gun enhancements like bump stocks and trigger cranks. There also is an issue in the use of terms such as “assault weapons.”

“What is an assault weapon?” asked board chairman Carlos Sarabasa, R-Aledo, suggesting the legislative language is not clear.

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Mercer County Sheriff David Staley said he favors concealed carry of firearms and the right to own guns, as long as there are no mental health issues. “If you’re a law-abiding citizen in our county, it’s your right,” he said.

Sarabasa said he had received a lot of questions asking if the resolution will bring an influx of guns to Mercer County.

“No,” Sarabasa said. The main point of the resolution, he said, is to “keep the state from coming in and taking our guns.”

In other law enforcement action Thursday, the county board discussed the financial repercussions of losing Chicago inmate incarceration at the county jail.

Staley said Chicago had been providing about $300,000 a year to the county jail budget by housing inmates in Aledo. As of May 1, Staley said, Cook County inmates are no longer being housed in Mercer County.

Board members learned two small unidentified counties had approached Mercer County about housing some of their inmates. Staley estimated doing so would improve the Mercer County facility’s annual revenue by $200,000 to $250,000. Currently Mercer County receives $40 a day for an outside inmate.

The board also appropriated $30,800 in county aid to a bridge fund and $31,827 for a county engineer salary, and approved extending the county’s line of credit at BankOrion to Sept. 1, with no increase in the amount.

“We’re telling the state they cannot pass laws that impinge on our Second Amendment rights.” BrianANSEEUW, county board member

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