A week before the Orlando massacre, Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Township, crafted a proposed resolution that would allow him and his fellow licensed board members to carry concealed weapons into county buildings, where they are currently prohibited from doing so.
From an economic standpoint, it would save the county money, he said, and from a safety perspective, it might deter incidents like what happened in Orlando from happening in Will County, he said.
Balich brought up his proposed resolution at the end of Tuesday’s legislative committee meeting, and he hopes it will be discussed at next month’s committee meeting. His resolution said that it would be “unfair to the taxpayer to pay for sufficient armed security officers at meetings” when a number of board members are licensed to carry guns.
Those elected officials who are properly licensed should be allowed to carry concealed firearms into county and forest preserve properties, the proposed resolution said.
“People trusted me enough to vote for me,” Balich said.
While a potential shooter could easily spot a uniformed officer, he would not know which board members were packing a gun, he said.
Offenders usually seek out places like the Orlando nightclub, where “no one has a weapon to fire back,” Balich said.
His idea goes back several months, when county officials first discussed how to enhance security measures, he said.
Balich also cited state laws that allow a mayor, aldermen, trustees and police to act as “conservators of the peace,” with powers to arrest people who violate municipal ordinances after completing a law enforcement training course. However, they do not specifically mention allowing those officials to carry weapons.
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Tatroe said that, as of now, the state prohibits firearms in county buildings, but said she would research the proposal.
Balich’s suggestion did not sit well with all committee members.
Democratic leader Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, said, “This was not the time nor the place” to discuss such a proposal.
“We need a time of mourning,” he said. “We need a time of healing.
“These 49 victims have not even been buried yet,” he said, referring to the shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Sunday morning. “After what just happened (in Orlando), I did not want to hear about guns. I was not prepared for that. We can talk about politics later on.”
Brooks added that he did not believe county board members should be allowed to carry guns into county buildings.