Without a dissenting vote five Trustees and the Village President of Richmond voted to kill an ordinance that attracted opposition resulting from
- “alerts” from the Illinois State Rifle Association and Richmond resident Michael Moore‘s Anywhere CCW, plus
- robo-calls from the McHenry County Young Republicans.
There was about two and a half hour of public comment, most of which was from Richmond and near-Richmond residents (unincorporated and Spring Grove).
Not one person in the packed meeting room spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance.
In the end Trustee Dennis Bardy had to explain that he was moving to approve the ordinance so he could vote against it. Before explaining that, he could not get a second for his motion.
The meeting was a pretty cordial one and seemed at times almost a seminar where the Board members were being educated by the gun experts who attended.
Village President Pete Koenig allowed audience members to speak out of turn resulting in a visible exchange of information about
- the instigation of the ordinance
- the authority to enact it and
- the deleterious effects passage would have on the ability to protect family members, the ability to drive legally through Richmond on Route 12 and even possible derailing of economic growth of a company who planned to use idle equipment to make Federally regulated components of firearms.
Let me pull some comments from my notes.
With regard to where the idea for an ordinance originated, Koenig told of communications he had gotten from the Illinois Municipal League and the Metropolitan League of Mayors.
He spoke of the limited ten-day “opportunity,” which led to what, if I could put it in visual terms, raised eyebrows.
At least two people fingered Lt. Governor Sheila Simon as a possible culprit.
Attorney Brad Steward confirmed that the ordinance language was derived from Cook County and Chicago ordinances.
The first woman to speak, Leslie Sacans of Spring Grove, tied the meeting into Independence Day:
“There’s nothing about a gun ban that lines up with independence.”
Jim Levin, who drives through Richmond to give shooting lessons in Wisconsin, used his smart phone to show Trustees what some of the language in the ordinance referred to.
“We don’t have the intention to go out and use guns for illegal purposes.
“We’re law abiding citizens here.”
Illinois State Rifle Association 2nd Vice President Mike Weisman traveled from Glen Ellyn to represent his “constituents.”
“You have no crime problem to speak of to need the ordinance.”
He pointed out, “The Village Attorney and Village President don’t understand it.
“This is an issue that will divide your community.
“Why endanger your political futures?”
Later he asked Koenig if he wanted to be “a small town mayor who brought Chicago politics to Richmond.”
Referring to murders in Illinois, he said only one had been committed with a rifle.
He wondered how the Village Board could afford to defend the ordinance in court.
“You’re worried about whether you’re going to buy or lease a lawnmower,” he said referring to Richmond’s tight budget.
Former Marine and Richmond resident Dennis Northern told of moving from the Round Lake area, where things were unsafe, when his children got ready for school.
He explained that his son had gotten sixteen hours of weapons training during over a weekend.
He then read the Second Amendment and a list of the causes of death by accident. Guns were near or at the bottom.
Former Richmond Township Supervisor Adam Metz and his wife both spoke against the gun control measure.
“As long as I can remember this Village Board never had a reason to bring up an ordinance to ban firearms,” he said from his wheel chair.
His wife Adrian pointed out,
“My husband has a right to protect our home. He has a right to protect himself.
“It’s really sad you’re going to take that right away from my husband.”
Woodstock Advocate publisher Gus Philpott, a Woodstock resident, introduced himself as the Secretary of the McHenry County Right To Carry Association.
“If we ever are faced with defending our freedom against enemies foreign or domestic, we need some firepower.”
“We do have that critical border that we have to defend,” Koenig joked.
Another Richmond resident, Joe Kukla, spoke against the proposal.
So did Spring Grove’s Wayne Walusiak, a long-time Boy Scout leader and pilot.
“It bans anything that isn’t a revolver,” Walusiak said.
He pointed out that there are more people killed in Chicago than in a year in Afghanistan.
Scott Szezesay, not a Richmond resident, claimed that the ban would not be upheld in court and asked,
“How can you pass something you don’t understand.”
Someone in the audience compared the ordinance to the Obamacare bill.
Spring Grove resident Parrin Illges explained that he “buys and sells guns.” He opposed the ordinance also.
Richard Fisher of Spring Grove was the man who made the economic issue. He said half of his cutting tools were sitting dormant and he was trying to develop a market for gun-related products which might allow him to hire back four laid-off employees.
“Bad guys will find weapons,” Charles Schultz, Jr., asserted. “They will have weapons equal to what you propose to ban.
“You cannot ban the bad guy from getting what he wants
“We cannot legislate safety.
“We need the right to defend [ourselves].”
Richmond’s Michael Moore, seen talking privately to several Trustees, offered a free gun class to trustees.
“When’s the last time we had a crime with an assault weapon,” he asked.
He did note that the FBI had used an assault weapon when the would-be bank robber was killed.
He also asked how Richmond could enact the ordinance, considering it is not a Home Rule unit.
Attorney Stewart pointed to the language in the bill that still is not law, plus the police power that Illinois statutes grant municipalities. The bill in question does not delineate between Home Rule and non-Home Rule municipalities, he also pointed out.
Richmond is the town where Matt Meyer, President of the McHenry County Sportsman Association, lives.
He asked if the Village Board members were “passing legislation in the best interests of their constituents.”
He also asked if money were in the budget to enforce the ordinance.
Trustee Bardy said it was.
At that point Trustee Kunz offered his personal opinion:
“I don’t like what’s going on in Springfield. I don’t understand why the State has to be the last state in the union to pass concealed carry.
“Would it be a problem or not? Who the hell knows?
“I think we need to have something to protect the residents.
“What if we enacted an ordinance that just complies with Federal law?”
“It’s a redundancy,” a woman from Richmond interjected.
Identifying his residence as being in the Richmond ZIP code, Don Knott said it “doesn’t feel like home…to try to control something already regulated by the Federal government.
“I don’t know why you would open yourself up to litigation costs.
“What would make my kid safe would be if half of the teachers had guns and were trained [to use them].”
A woman behind me then said, “I’m a teacher and I agree.”
“Everyone of those massacres happened in a gun-free zone,” Knott continued.
“Why do we want to make Richmond a gun free zone?”
He concluded by quoting a Chicago Tribune article which said there were 200,000 gang members in Chicago and wondering where they might go if the power went off.
Sitting next to me was Patricia Cummings.
“9-11 changed the world as I knew it.
“I got a gun [and] learned how to use it.”
She also thanked village officials for the phone call telling her of the meeting and its subject matter.
No one on the Board disabused her of the belief that they had informed her of the meeting.
Wauconda’s Shawn Weber, who said he didn’t own a gun, mentioned the ten-day period after the concealed carry bill went into effect and asked,
“Can you understand why the people don’t trust politicians?”
Another unincorporated Richmond resident, Garry Foreman
He asserted the ordinance “absolutely will not be effective.”
He also noted it “would ban almost any sporting rifle.”
Foreman was also the one who identified the robo-calls as coming from the McHenry County Young Republicans.
Still another Richmond resident, Sean McCallister, told of why he moved to town:
“I moved out her a couple of years ago to get away from this sort of stuff.”
Phillip Downes described himself as a “part-time resident” and “former Marine.”
“How dare you tell me and my family how we can defend ourselves?”
Referring to his other residence in Wisconsin, he said, “We don’t have a lot of these arguments.
“What if someone tries to carjack me?”
He accused the Board of responding with “a knee jerk reaction.”
“We are not Chicago.
“We are not East St. Louis.”
“I have an anti-assault rifle. What do you think of that?” Tryon Grove Road resident Archie Eastabrooks announced.
He asked residents to ask their Board members “how much they’re going to pay pay [in] legal fees when you’re faced with injunctive relief in Federal court.”
Aaron Hackball of Lake Geneva introduced himself as “an undocumented Illinois resident.”
“I moved across the border.”
“Smart move,” Village President Koenig rejoined.
“I do travel through Richmond every day and target shoot on my lunch hour.
“Am I going to drive around Richmond?
That would deprive McDonald’s revenue, he indicated.
“You can’t conceal half of the weapons at any time.
“If you did pass that ordinance probably half the people in this room won’t follow it.”
He also derided use of a bill on concealed carry to ban rifles.
Richmond’s Rick Greene told of having two concealed carry permits.
“I travel all around the country,” he said, indicating he needed a gun in some neighborhoods he visited.
Not passing the ordinance would “take away…the lawsuits that are going to come.
“I really don’t want my money spent that way.
“I don’t feel we should have to come here,” he added.
At this point Trustee Ramsin Wardanian weighed in.
“I’m a retired police officer and I believe in the Second Amendment.”
Trustee Charolette Hollenback said,
“It’s nice of you folks to come and tell us what to do.”
Another female opponent was Kathleen Nelson of Richmond.
“These are reasonable weapons.
“Gun control is about keeping the guns out of the hands of criminals.”
She noted the problem of a lot of “potential crime coming through town” with 20-40,000 cars a day.
Referring to drugs and gangs, she urged support of the local police.
“I don’t think we need to take any rights away.”
A Keystone Road resident named Josh said he was born and raised in Richmond.
“Why are you taking my right away to protect these people?” he said referring to his former classmates and teachers in the room.
“It’s not a good thing.”
Jim Levin came up with a good line at this point:
“I carry a gun because they don’t make a holster big enough to carry a cop.”
An unidentified audience member:
“If you don’t know what you’re voting on, rip it up and throw it away.”
An NRA Instructor voiced the opinion that the Board had “wasted 2 1/2 hours of everyone’s time.”
A local firefighter named Paul who did not want his last name used, told of how he was prepared to defend his family with a gun.
He emphasized, “I will get out of Richmond before I’ll let that happen.”
A four-year Richmond Policeman observed that the only local use of an assault weapon he had every heard of was “the FBI at the bank.”
Another former policeman added his two cents:
“I never once arrested a person who said a law affected his committing a crime.”
At this point Trustee Bardy said,
“I really appreciate the people of Richmond turning out.”
Then he made the motion to approve the ordinance, having to explain to the rest of the Board he was doing so in order to be able to vote, “No.”
With Trustee David Kielpinski absent, the vote was 6-0 to kill the ordinance.
Before the Board paused for a break so the visitors could leave, Trustee Drabant said,
“Tomorrow is the 4th of July.
“This is democracy in action.”