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Vermilion County board approves ordinance backing gun-rights effort

DANVILLE — Vermilion County this week became the 67th county in the state to back the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which supports the right to own guns.

The county board voted 19-4 Tuesday, with four members absent, to approve an ordinance backing the measure.

Board member Jerry Hawker, one of the most outspoken members in favor of the measure, said the board opted to adopt an ordinance rather than a resolution.

“A resolution is more just a flowery feel-good action taken by a political body,” Hawker said. “An ordinance actually has fines for violations and gives powers for enforcement.”

Hawker said he believes the most important aspect of the ordinance is to alert state legislators and the governor “that a vast majority of Illinois believes in the Second Amendment and is concerned enough to get out and work for the preservation.”

Board Vice Chairman Craig Golden was one of the four members who voted against the ordinance.

He said he did so because he didn’t believe it was necessary.

“I believe in the protections under the U.S. and Illinois constitutions and the laws that are in place already, and I also believe in the judicial system that would prevent any further intrusions on those protections” on the right to bear arms, Golden said.

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He said he didn’t feel the board “needed an ordinance since we have those protections in place.”

“Hopefully, anything that would come up would go through the (judicial system) — the trial division, the appellate division and the Supreme Court.”

Hawker said the ordinance does not change any current gun laws. Rather, he said, it supports lawful gun owners against interference “if the state or federal government decided to come in with an executive order that we’ve seen so many times in the last 10 years.”

In that case, “our sheriff can enforce this ordinance and keep the federal or state government from infringing upon any lawful gun owner.”

Hawker said he believes there is “way too much” gun violence in society. But he said he doubts any of the recent shootings in the area were committed by anyone who possessed a weapon lawfully.

He said a 700-member group calling itself the Vermilion County Constitutionalists spearheaded the vote. He said its members support harsh sentencing for people who use weapons illegally and don’t condone vigilantism.

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