Two Illinois communities, two very different takes on guns

Gun debate polarizes communities

Iroquois County, Illinois - It’s had to find unanimous consent on just about anything these days, let alone gun rights.

But in rural Illinois, about two hours south of Chicago, the Iroquois County board recently had no trouble passing a resolution relating to guns in an 18-to-0 vote.

Its purpose: to voice their support for the Second Amendment in a state that they fear is being controlled by progressive Chicago politicians, especially when it comes to gun control.

“I feel like a lot of politicians in Chicago are very disconnected with rural America,” said Daniel Rayman, a farmer by trade who is also on the county board, a part time position in Iroquois County.

Rayman introduced the resolution with a fellow board member.

“It’s basically just a way for the county to state its displeasure with the state of Illinois,” Rayman said, adding that they “don’t agree with the legislation coming out of [the capitol city of] Springfield.”

For Rayman, the right to bear arms is one not to be taken lightly.

“It’s important not only for peoples self-protection, but for hunting, and people just being able to sustain themselves and their family,” said Rayman.

The Illinois legislature has introduced some measures that could restrict gun rights. But hypothetically speaking if legislators passed an assault weapons ban, Iroquois County’s resolution would not prevent them from having to follow the law since it’s non-binding.

John Shure, another board member and gun rights enthusiast, says the government one day trying to seize his guns is “an area of concern.”  And yes, he said he has heard the criticisms calling it meaningless.

“It isn’t meaningless because it’s a way that we can send our message to the legislators in Springfield,” Shure said. “They should hear form everybody and take into account the views of constituents when they vote.”

In many ways what’s on display in Iroquois County is the polar opposite of what’s happening in the suburbs north of Chicago.

This year, the town of Deerfield passed an ordinance banning assault weapons. They’re following in the footsteps of neighboring Highland Park, which passed a similar ordinance in 2013 and which was upheld by the courts.

Highland Park’s mayor, Nancy Rotering, says in the absence of state and federal officials changing laws on a broader scale, she feels it’s up to municipalities to do what they can to curb the issue of gun violence.

“As a parent, as a mayor, I knew we had to take this opportunity and make this point, that these weapons of war aren’t welcomed in our community,” Rotering said.

Rotering admits that her affluent community isn’t a place anyone would expect to have a high number of assault weapons. Local police have collected only eight since the ordinance went into effect.  But she says that doesn’t matter and cites locations of shootings like Newtown, Orlando and San Bernardino, as other places you wouldn’t expect to have an assault weapons problem.

Deerfield’s recently enacted ban is facing a legal challenge. But unless a judge steps in, that town’s ban will take effect on June 13.

The vastly different takes on guns from these two parts of the state illustrate a growing divide, and it’s one that won’t do anything to bridge the divide on a debate that seems to have reached fever pitch.

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