On Thursday, the La Salle County Board fired off a statement to state lawmakers to be mindful of gun rights.
By a 26-1 vote, the board decided to ask voters on the Nov. 6 ballot to say yes or no to the question, "Shall La Salle County oppose the passage of any bill where the Illinois General Assembly desires to restrict the individual right of U.S. citizens as protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution."
Copies of the resolution placing the question on the ballot are to be sent to the governor and every legislature member.
An earlier draft of the resolution had language that wanted the county declared a "sanctuary county for law-abiding gun owners to protect them from unconstitutional gun laws," but the wording was removed.
Board members who backed the resolution said they want Springfield to know how La Salle County feels about gun rights, believing most county voters will vote against further gun restrictions.
Tom Walsh, D-Ottawa, was the only board member to vote against the resolution, but not because he looks unfavorably upon guns, Walsh noted he has permits to carry a concealed gun in three states, one of which is Illinois.
Rather, Walsh said he was concerned about jurisdiction, believing the board was "out of place" in laying the resolution down over the municipalities in the county. He said towns should consider the issue on their own, without the county speaking for them. Walsh said the resolution should only have applied to unincorporated areas of the county.
Walsh's position drew criticism from a few board members, with Allen Erbrederis, R-Somonauk, describing Walsh's view as "ridiculous," saying the board represents citizens in the entire county, including municipalities.
Larry Johnson, who helps run JJ's Pub in Ottawa, spoke to the board before the vote, as a concerned citizen, saying as someone in the hospitality business, "I'm nervous about guns. I support the Second Amendment, but I don't want to see guns in taverns. I've seen enough Old Western movies."
Johnson recalled the fight between biker groups at JJ's last August, after which three guns were found.
"It was scary," Johnson said, adding he personally knows what a bullet can do, as he was shot in Vietnam.
No shots were fired during the biker fight.
Jack Leininger, a former county board member from Marseilles, also addressed the board. Leininger noted he is a gun instructor, but asked the board to put off the vote on the resolution, and take more time to consider it.