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Balich: County buildings won’t be ‘soft target’ if Will County Board members carry firearms

Balich: County buildings won’t be ‘soft target’ if Will County Board members carry firearms
County committee to discuss concealed carry

Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:24 p.m. CDT
Wight Engineering event 402

By MIKE MALLORY – mmallory@shawmedia.com
JOLIET – A Will County Board member said Tuesday that he has support from Republican and Democratic board members for his proposed resolution that would allow board members to carry concealed firearms in county buildings.

Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, on June 14 introduced to the board’s Legislative and Policy Committee a rough draft of a resolution he wrote prior to the June 12 Orlando nightclub shooting. Board members are not allowed to carry firearms in county buildings. Balich expects a formal discussion to take place Tuesday when the committee meets.

Balich believes allowing board members who have a valid Firearm Owners Identification card to carry concealed firearms would have significant benefits.

It would keep county buildings from being viewed as a “soft target” – one where would-be offenders only have to be concerned with a handful of armed law enforcement officers. Balich said a potentially armed board, composed of 26 people, would lower or eliminate the loss of life and improve safety in the county’s public buildings.

He’s not saying each member should carry, but rather they should be able to if they so choose. He said an intruder wouldn’t know who was carrying.

“If 26 people are able to carry, that’s a big deterrent to a mass shooting,” Balich said.

Balich said the move also would save the county money, especially when a new 11-story courthouse is built and more security officers are required.

He referenced Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/21-6, which says anyone who carries or stores weapons in buildings or on land supported by public funds commits a Class A misdemeanor if they do so without prior written permission from the property’s chief security officer.

Balich said he interprets this to mean that a resolution is not necessary, and a chief security officer would have a “hard time” trying to give a reasonable denial to a properly licensed gun owner.

Balich said he sent the statute and similar laws from other governmental bodies to Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Tatroe for review. A message left Tuesday with Tatroe was not immediately returned.

Balich said he’s received support when talking to board members from both political parties. He said opinions on the Second Amendment are personal choices.

“National TV likes to blow it up, but it’s not a Republican-Democrat thing,” Balich said. “It’s more of a personal thing. It’s about whether you believe people should have a right to defend themselves.”

He expects a vote on the matter will not be tied to party allegiances.

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