In Shawneetown, the seat of Gallatin County, Illinois, the County Board finally voted 4 to 1 tonight to approve a resolution confirming the Second Amendment rights of the county's citizens. The board and the county's population lean heavily Democrat.
In multiple attempts over the past year and then some, not one member of the board was willing to discuss the motion publicly. This left Gallatin County as a big red aberration on our map of Second Amendment County resolutions in the southern part of the state where the movement began. With no shortage of effort, we were still unable to find anything out.
A couple of weeks ago, however, we were told by those in the know locally that the county was finally looking at the matter and that a vote would be coming soon. The approval tonight of this resolution makes Gallatin the 66th county (out of 102) to officially agree that the state is not serving the people's best interest when it comes to firearm rights.
The resolution that was finally passed was written by the state's attorney, Doug Dyhrkopp. The long delay in the resolution's passage was the result of numerous incidents of haggling back and forth by the board members until they could find wording that they all agreed on. The full resolution is below.
We recently discovered a letter written by the Jasper Couty State's Attorney that firmly puts him in the will-not-prosecute camp. While he will still continue to prosecute existing firearms laws, new laws may not be extended the same courtesy, as he explains in his letter:
"Jasper County concerned citizens, there is no doubt that our nation and state have become highly polarized politically regarding the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Section 22 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution provides: “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
The United States Supreme Court in a number of cases has interpreted and upheld that right.
When I was elected State's Attorney, I swore an oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of state's attorney according to the best of my ability."
I also must comply with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. Those rules tell me, “the duty of a public prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict." A prosecutor serves the public and NOT any government agency. The decision to ﬁle formal charges in a criminal matter is the responsibility of the prosecutor.
State's Attorneys and police officers are entrusted with discretion in carrying out their authority of enforcing criminal laws by taking into consideration various factors such as harm, public impact, available resources, and justice. It is an important responsibility to wield this authority in a manner that is always trying to seek justice.
I have sworn fidelity to the Constitution, not elected government officials. My responsibility is to protect the public, including protecting the constitutional rights of the People.
It is unfortunate when those tasked with legislating put those of us, who are enforcing the laws, in the position to have to analyze if the laws are violating our oaths of office.
Many of the current proposed legislation would violate the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment. Many of these proposed legislations may never become law. If they do, enforcement of those laws would be a violation of the oath that I have taken and the trust that the public has placed in me. When a law facially infringes on any constitutional right, justice requires that conscience overrule strict performance.
This is not to suggest that I will not continue to enforce current gun laws in Jasper County. This is simply a preemptive statement regarding possible future legislation from our State’s capitol and Second Amendment rights of citizens. I have had a number of concerns brought to myself and my office, so I wanted to make my stance clear.
I will continue to seek justice thoughtfully, remain mindful of my responsibilities to the Constitution, and continue to protect the people of Jasper County with the same vigor as would protect my own family.
Chad M. Miller
Jasper County States Attorney
Huge kudos go out to Jeff Wittenborn for his work on this resolution, and special thanks also to Derrick Fletcher for his contribution to this story.