The Future of Gun Sanctuaries

Last April, two Illinois counties, Iroquois and Effingham, kicked off the movement to create gun sanctuary counties to oppose what many residents feel are oppressive laws that curtail Second Amendment rights. Since then, more rural areas have caught onto the idea.

The bold moves made national headlines and sparked a debate about the legality of these measures. As legislators continue to seek new restrictions on gun ownership, more counties are using this as measure as a symbolic check against the State.

While some critics have pointed out that these ordinances lack real ‘teeth,’ they may prove to be a rallying cry for gun rights advocates in traditionally liberal states. 

The resolutions are an attempt to oppose repression imposed by urban legislators, "flipping the script" by taking a stand in favor of gun rights. The resolutions were a clear response to large cities like Chicago that have declared themselves sanctuary cities that will disregard federal efforts to remove immigrants. Gun sanctuary counties are taking a similar approach, enacting resolutions that say law enforcement can disregard Illinois laws that the county deems are oppressive regarding firearm rights.

Thus far, 30 of Illinois's 102 counties have passed resolutions creating gun sanctuaries. In addition to the two counties that initiated the movement, the other counties are: Henry, Mercer, Woodford, Tazewell, Ford, Iroquois, Brown, Douglas, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland, Clark, Bond, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Clay, Clinton, Washington, Monroe, Perry, Jefferson, Wayne, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Saline, Pope, and Hardin

At least twelve other counties have resolutions pending, while two additional counties will put the measures to vote in November.

Passing a gun sanctuary resolution is not without controversy, as officials in Clark County temporarily tabled the move for a month to allow the State's Attorney's office to review its legality. Clark County approved the resolution in June.

The Legal and Constitutional Issues

The passage of these resolutions supporting the Second Amendment raises the question of their constitutional legality. Playing off the idea of sanctuary cities, where law enforcement officials have been directed by local officials to not cooperate with immigration officers in order to protect immigrant rights, gun sanctuary resolutions take a similar approach. Gun advocates say that they also deserve protection from increasing restrictions on gun rights along with a disregard from legislators who disregard the rights and needs of those citizens outside city limits.

Law enforcement officials in Illinois sanctuary counties aren't sure how they'll deal with issues that may arise if additional laws are passed in the state limiting gun owners’ rights. Some of the resolutions indicate that law enforcement will give gun owners who are violating the state's new laws a break in their counties. In this way, the gun sanctuaries set up conflicts between state and local laws. However, it remains to be seen how such resolutions will be enforced, as state laws typically take precedence over local or county laws.

Could This Be a Trend in Other States?

Gun rights advocates across the United States seem to be responding to Second Amendment rights restrictions passed by legislatures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school massacre. In addition to the movement in Illinois, gun rights advocates in four Oregon counties have sanctuary resolutions on the books. Another ten are expected to have voters decide the issue in November.

Andrew Nickel is the founder of The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel, and has spent his entire legal career dedicated to all areas of criminal and family law. Prior to his years in private practice, Mr. Nickel spent nearly five years as a prosecutor in both Kane and Kendall Counties in Illinois, where he handled a wide variety of cases including traffic, misdemeanors, felonies, and DUI cases.

Last April, two Illinois counties, Iroquois and Effingham, kicked off the movement to create gun sanctuary counties to oppose what many residents feel are oppressive laws that curtail Second Amendment rights. Since then, more rural areas have caught onto the idea.

The bold moves made national headlines and sparked a debate about the legality of these measures. As legislators continue to seek new restrictions on gun ownership, more counties are using this as measure as a symbolic check against the State.

While some critics have pointed out that these ordinances lack real ‘teeth,’ they may prove to be a rallying cry for gun rights advocates in traditionally liberal states. 

The resolutions are an attempt to oppose repression imposed by urban legislators, "flipping the script" by taking a stand in favor of gun rights. The resolutions were a clear response to large cities like Chicago that have declared themselves sanctuary cities that will disregard federal efforts to remove immigrants. Gun sanctuary counties are taking a similar approach, enacting resolutions that say law enforcement can disregard Illinois laws that the county deems are oppressive regarding firearm rights.

Thus far, 30 of Illinois's 102 counties have passed resolutions creating gun sanctuaries. In addition to the two counties that initiated the movement, the other counties are: Henry, Mercer, Woodford, Tazewell, Ford, Iroquois, Brown, Douglas, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland, Clark, Bond, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Clay, Clinton, Washington, Monroe, Perry, Jefferson, Wayne, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Saline, Pope, and Hardin

At least twelve other counties have resolutions pending, while two additional counties will put the measures to vote in November.

Passing a gun sanctuary resolution is not without controversy, as officials in Clark County temporarily tabled the move for a month to allow the State's Attorney's office to review its legality. Clark County approved the resolution in June.

The Legal and Constitutional Issues

The passage of these resolutions supporting the Second Amendment raises the question of their constitutional legality. Playing off the idea of sanctuary cities, where law enforcement officials have been directed by local officials to not cooperate with immigration officers in order to protect immigrant rights, gun sanctuary resolutions take a similar approach. Gun advocates say that they also deserve protection from increasing restrictions on gun rights along with a disregard from legislators who disregard the rights and needs of those citizens outside city limits.

Law enforcement officials in Illinois sanctuary counties aren't sure how they'll deal with issues that may arise if additional laws are passed in the state limiting gun owners’ rights. Some of the resolutions indicate that law enforcement will give gun owners who are violating the state's new laws a break in their counties. In this way, the gun sanctuaries set up conflicts between state and local laws. However, it remains to be seen how such resolutions will be enforced, as state laws typically take precedence over local or county laws.

Could This Be a Trend in Other States?

Gun rights advocates across the United States seem to be responding to Second Amendment rights restrictions passed by legislatures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school massacre. In addition to the movement in Illinois, gun rights advocates in four Oregon counties have sanctuary resolutions on the books. Another ten are expected to have voters decide the issue in November.

Andrew Nickel is the founder of The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel, and has spent his entire legal career dedicated to all areas of criminal and family law. Prior to his years in private practice, Mr. Nickel spent nearly five years as a prosecutor in both Kane and Kendall Counties in Illinois, where he handled a wide variety of cases including traffic, misdemeanors, felonies, and DUI cases.