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04-25-2008, 10:56 PM
County residents sign petition supporting the 2nd Amendment
By Sharon K. Wolfe

BLOOMINGTON -- A group armed with 2,850 signatures from McLean County residents on a petition supporting the Second Amendment are asking the County Board to stand up for the constitutional right of gun ownership.

A legislative subcommittee voted 3-1 to endorse a modified form of the Pro Second Amendment (Pro2A) Resolution, sending it to the full committee. It could go to the full board on May 20.

The resolution was proposed as part of a county-by-county effort across Illinois.

“Seventy-seven counties have passed the resolution -- (about) 50 counties passed it without changing the wording,” John Weaver, Bloomington, one of the organizers, told the committee.

About a dozen people attended the meeting at the Government Center in downtown Bloomington. Organizers said they were part of a grassroots movement.

“The second amendment stands as a bookend,” Weaver said, adding erosion of the right to bear arms means “the rest of our freedoms are going to be threatened.”

The resolution submitted by Pro2A supporters called for opposition to laws infringing on the right to keep and bear arms; endorsed use of firearms for defense of life, liberty and property; and noted the economic benefits of safe forms of firearms recreation, such as hunting and shooting.

After discussion, the committee approved several changes.

While it substantially kept the phrasing about opposing legislation that infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms, it added the word “unreasonably” in front of “infringes.” It also struck a phrase that called on people to “consider such laws (regulating gun ownership) to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful legislative authority.”

The resolution as adopted also called on the county to take pro-Second Amendment stands on various gun-control bills pending in the Illinois General Assembly.

Board member George Gordon, an emeritus Illinois State University professor of politics and government, was the sole dissenter.

“At the very least, I think this is premature because of the timing,” he said, cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling expected in a couple of months. After many years away from the issue, the Supreme Court agreed last fall to rule on the meaning of the Second Amendment.

After the meeting, Walter Biesida of Normal, who was a Chicago police officer from 1965 to 1997, said the proposed changes in the resolution were significant.

Before the meeting, Biesida said: “Criminal will be criminals. Every mass shooting you can name happened in a gun-free zone. You’re hurting the good guy.”

Gun-control laws mean means “I’m gonna take away your self-defense,” he said.