A group of local citizens called the Vermilion County Constitutionalists have been trying since last year to have Vermilion County become Illinois’ 68th Second Amendment Sanctuary County to protect their gun rights.
An ordinance will be before the Vermilion County Board at its Jan. 11 meeting. A full agenda and information about the meeting can be found at www.vercounty.org.
In a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, gun laws deemed unconstitutional by the group would not be enforced, according to Vermilion County Constitutionalists’ Phil Jackson. Jackson is pastor at OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville.
Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been adopted by more than 1,200 local governments in states around the U.S., according to the Associated Press last year. One organization says there are about 2,000 counties in the U.S. covered by either state or county level Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions, ordinances or laws. The number represents 62.5 percent of American counties. There are 102 counties in Illinois.
The movement by guns rights advocates took off around 2018, as states considered stricter gun laws in the wake of mass shootings.
Vermilion County has a 2007 resolution about supporting the Constitution and people’s right to bear arms that was passed that the Vermilion County Constitutionalists want to update regarding taxes, levies, executive orders and emergency declarations.
“I, myself, thought this was a good thing to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County because I had great concern over things being confiscated off of nothing more than an executive order,” Jackson said. “There’s been a long precedence, starting with the first of May 1933 when FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) confiscated the nation’s gold supply from all of the citizenry without a law. It was just an executive order.”
Jackson said it got him concerned, thinking something like that could happen again. He saw sanctuary county data about going to your local county board or seeking a ballot referendum.
He said there are many people who share his concern and they started meeting last summer. They also started a Facebook page which attracted interest.
Jackson added, “I’m sorry, but our area is getting very, very dangerous. The bottom line is, for law-abiding citizens, guns equal protection. And most law-abiding citizens don’t like being treated like criminals.”
If the powers that be want to confiscate every gun from every criminal, he’s for it.
“But not from law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Jackson started going to county board meetings a year ago. He also started reviewing Second Amendment Sanctuary County paperwork from other counties, and he looked at the constitutionality for a resolution to pattern off of. He found one from Newton County, Missouri.
He said the group didn’t propose a Second Amendment Preservation Act ordinance from another in Illinois because the one in Missouri has passed constitutionality.
Another group member is Jack Land who said he’s been hunting and fishing and around firearms his entire life. He’s a 30-plus-year hunter safety instructor. He’s a Vermilion County master hunter safety and trapping instructor and has been a concealed carry instructor since 2014.
“This is near and dear to me,” he said.
“We are not asking for anything that is not already on the books,” Land said, adding that they’re wanting to update the county to where it’s recognized as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
“We’re not telling the feds that we’re running our county. We’re not telling the feds anything like that. What we’re saying is, if any one person sitting in any one office decided by his own power, whoever that may be, there will be no more AR-15s in Vermilion County from this day forward, it ain’t happening,” Land said.
“A law is the law. A policy and an executive order are policies,” Jackson said. If there is an executive order or policy change, the county sheriff can arrest federal agents, Jackson said.
Of the 67 Second Amendment counties in Illinois, 50 did so through county board action, and 17 had referendums easily approved, Jackson said.
If the county board would turn this down, they will seek putting it on the ballot.
Several county board members have voiced support for the Second Amendment Preservation Act resolution, including Jerry Hawker, who has been working with the group.
The group’s proposed resolution states: “All federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations passed by the federal government and specifically any presidential administration, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and article I, Section 22 of the Illinois Constitution, shall not be recognized by this county, and will specifically be rejected by this county, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect within Vermilion County, Illinois.”
Such Federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations include but are not limited to:
(a) Any tax levy, fee, or stamp imposed on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services which impose on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
(b) Any registering or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition which impose on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
© Any registering or tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition which impose on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
(d) Any Act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens;
(e) Any act whether past, present or future passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the Federal Government and specifically any Presidential Administration which infringes on the people’s right to keep and bear arms in Vermilion County Illinois shall be considered null and void in the county, and not recognized by this county,
Vermilion County, Illinois declares that it must be the duty of the courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms and that no person, including a public officer or county employee of this county or any political subdivision of this county, can have authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal laws, orders, or rules infringing on any of the rights herein, including the right to keep and bear arms.
Vermilion County, Illinois declares that any person, while acting as an official, agent, employee, or deputy of the United States Government who enforces, or attempts to enforce any of the infringements identified in this Ordinance or gives material aid and support to the efforts of others who enforce or attempt to enforce any of the infringements identified in this Ordinance may be permanently ineligible to be employed as a law enforcement officer or to supervise law enforcement officers in the county or within the authority of the Vermilion County Illinois County Board.
There will be an exception made for Vermilion County, Illinois local deputies and sheriffs, as they shall and will not be held liable to this Ordinance when assisting any and all federal agents in the arrest of suspected criminals, so long as said objects of such actions are not being sought for arrest in matters involving the legal Keeping and bearing of arms.
Any and all federal agents trying to enforce any federal regulations listed above shall be subject to arrest by the Vermilion County Illinois Sheriff’s Department. The Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department shall be given the full authority to make an arrest of any and all federal agents that violate state laws, and to enforce the regulations enumerated above.