Illinois Counties Move to Provide Sanctuary... For Guns

After an ugly midterm election during which immigration - and the concept of “sanctuary cities” for immigrants - were routinely attacked by the president and his conservative allies, you can imagine my surprise when two consecutive news articles in my inbox this morning involved some of the same people proposing sanctuary for firearms.

First, there was the story of law enforcement officials in Washington openly vowing defiance of a gun safety initiative supported and passed by three fifths of the electorate earlier this month. Now, entire counties in Illinois are passing non-binding resolutions making themselves “sanctuary firearm counties.”

 Logan County voters on Tuesday approved a referendum to become a sanctuary firearm county.

Logan joined the 26 Illinois counties that call themselves “gun sanctuaries.” In these counties, political and law enforcement officials limit their cooperation with federal authorities on Second Amendment issues that county leaders deem unconstitutional.

The resolutions target three specific pieces of legislation: HB 1465, HB 1467, and HB 1469. These bills would raise the age of purchase for a firearm to 21, prohibit municipalities from making assault weapon ownership easier than the state has made it, and outlaw high capacity magazines. However, none of the bills have been signed into law yet - all of them are currently stuck in House committee.

A spokesman for Michael Madigan, Democratic speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, said the new General Assembly could take up new gun restriction laws again after being seated in the new year.

"I would assume they would based on the fact that there have been fresh ideas proposed every two years," spokesman Steve Brown said. "There are a number of unfinished ideas where the governor decided to veto bills."

In the meantime, this is a tug of war that’s going to be playing out in just about every state in the country, as state Republican parties continue to push these local referenda as a way to boost turnout in rural areas.