Posts in Illinois
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.

School Board Unanimously Opposes Arming Teachers

The Champagne (IL) Unit 4 School Board has unanimously voted to oppose a statewide resolution to arm teachers, Jacqueline Francis of Fox Illinois reports:

Students also spoke before the board, voicing their thoughts and fears about the idea of teachers carrying guns.

"I and my other students are worried about gun violence in our schools and around the community,” Centennial High School senior Sophie Brown, said. “I agree something needs to be done, but putting guns around schools isn't the answer."

Jemel Roberson was a Good Guy With a Gun. Now He's Dead.

By now, you’ve probably seen or heard about the tragic death of Jemel Roberson in Illinois. Jemel was, by all accounts, the quintessential example of “a good guy with a gun.” A security guard with designs on becoming a police officer, he was doing his job over the weekend - protecting the patrons of Manny’s Blue Bar - when he was shot and killed by police officers who mistook him for a criminal.

 Photo by Avontea Boose

Photo by Avontea Boose

Jemel was 26 years old, a new dad, in uniform, licensed to carry his firearm. Now, he’s another gun violence statistic, and it is impossible to ignore the role that race may have played in the shooting.

Witnesses say Roberson was wearing his uniform, including a hat emblazoned with the word "security," and was holding a firearm he was licensed to carry.

Midlothian police confirmed that two officers responded to the scene at the bar on Sunday and that one of them opened fire.

"Everybody was screaming out 'Security!' " Harris told WGN. "And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him."

Jemel’s death also brings up the broader issue of “good guys with guns.” It’s not difficult to envision this exact scenario playing out with an armed teacher, in the chaos of the aftermath of another school shooting. Or a concealed carry holder doing what the NRA has told us time and again is the rationale for being armed in public - defending himself - when police arrive. Combine the fact that law enforcement use their weapons in this country with greater frequency than elsewhere in the world with the continued issue of shooting first and asking questions later, and the conclusion is inescapable - it’s just as dangerous to be a good guy with a gun as a bad guy with a gun. Statistically, this danger is far greater if you’re African American.

Jemel’s family has sued the officer who killed him, as well as the department:

The Cook County Sheriff's Office is handling the criminal investigation of the original shooting, while the State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the police-involved shooting.

Roberson's family said in addition to the holding the officer who shot him responsible, his family wants Roberson to be remembered as a hero.

His family and friends believe there was a racial element to the situation because the cop who shot him was white. Law enforcement has not confirmed the race of the officer.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $1 million.