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February 27, 2023

Kelli Wegener



Tuesday night’s McHenry County Board meeting was a very disappointing display of conservative extremism.  Although I am pleased the county residents are participating in the governmental process by giving public comment during our board meetings, the topic that brought the community to the boardroom, a resolution opposing the Protect Illinois Communities Act, was placed on our County Board agenda solely for political posturing. 


The resolution passed last Tuesday night essentially only tells Springfield we don’t like their new law. This means the county government used your tax dollars and countless hours of county staff time to make a political statement. Instead, each County Board Member who disagreed with the new law should have taken time out of their schedule to call their state legislators and file witness slips. The McHenry County Board Chairman could have prevented this waste of tax dollars by not allowing this resolution to be placed on the agenda.  


When the State of Illinois Legislature passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, I was pleased that our state had taken a step to reduce gun violence, the number one killer of children. Data has proven that reduced access to assault weapons results in a reduced number of mass shooting-related deaths. In the ten years the federal assault weapons ban was in effect, mass shooting-related deaths were reduced by 70%.


If that data doesn’t convince us to limit the sale and ownership of weapons of war to the public, maybe the economic repercussions of a mass shooting will convince us ($7 million and counting for Highland Park in just 7.5 months). There is also plenty of precedent for limiting these weapons of war, starting from the 1800’s to current day.  On Friday, February 17th, a federal court ruled in favor of the City of Naperville in a lawsuit (Bevis v Naperville) brought by a local gun store who asked for a Temporary Restraining Order on that city’s ban on assault weapons. This win for Naperville shows that the resolution put forth Tuesday night to the McHenry County Board was mute and will have no effect on the Illinois law or any other assault weapon’s ban. 


It is disappointing that county board members assuaged the far right by voting for a resolution that opposes gun safety measures. I sincerely thought more County Board Members would see this as a stunt to appease a certain portion of our population instead of the reality that our children and residents need protecting.  It seems that profits and the enjoyment of owning an assault weapon are more important than our children’s and resident’s lives. 


I was honored to read a statement written by Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park, at the County Board meeting.  Her thoughtful statement reminded us of the aftermath of their Fourth of July parade and what her community and citizens are still working through.  Before there is a mass shooting in McHenry County, our local officials and Sheriff’s office must do something to reduce access to assault weapons.  


I end this in saying that nobody is trying to take away guns from law abiding citizens. The 100+ guns that are restricted in the Protect Illinois Communities Act are weapons of war that increase the ability of a person to kill many people in a short amount of time. Since mid-February, there have been 80 mass shootings. The mental health community is working as hard as they can to help, but this is not the only solution to the gun violence problem.  To those who oppose this new law - How do you propose to solve the gun violence problem in our country?

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