POINT: Should Madison County become a gun sanctuary county?
No. Violence, injury underscore need for good gun-control regulations
EDITOR’S NOTE: Voters in Madison County will see a nonbinding question on the fall ballot: “Shall Madison County become a sanctuary county for law-abiding gun owners to protect them from unconstitutional gun laws passed by the Illinois General Assembly?” We asked two residents for opposing views on the issue.
By PAMELLA GRONEMEYER
I am a wife and a mother, a practicing physician, and a concerned citizen. As a physician, I am well aware of the scope of gun violence.
Nearly 20,000 gun suicides and an estimated 769 gun deaths related to domestic violence occur every year in the United States. Public Health officials estimate that gun violence costs every American $700 a year or $229 billion in total. According to the World Health Organization, Americans are 25 times more likely to be victims of gun-related murder and eight times more likely to die by firearm suicide than people in any other developed country. Gun violence injuries are now so common that a recent National Geographic article highlighted a rare face transplant surgery necessitated by the tragic results of a self-inflicted gun injury.
I have heard the retort over and over that people kill, guns don’t. Most gun violence (including accidents) occur among family and friends, facilitated by easy access to guns.
The fact is Americans own more guns than citizens of any other country. We Americans need and must demand good gun control regulations. I am not alone in my stance. The American Medical Association, an organization that has many physician member gun owners, recently made a statement at its convention in Chicago endorsing gun violence restraining orders, tough background checks, and better data collection on firearm deaths including funding the Center for Disease Control to advance research on gun violence. I was also pleased that the Illinois General Assembly acted to pass new laws for responsible gun ownership.
However, I am disappointed by the response of some county boards in Southern Illinois that have declared their counties to be “gun sanctuaries.” These counties, using the inapposite example of immigration sanctuary cities, are declaring that gun restrictions passed by the state and local governments should be considered “unconstitutional” and should not be followed or enforced. The Madison County Board, my home county in Illinois, did not feel that it was within their purview to make such a declaration, but instead will place a referendum on the November ballot asking whether Madison County should be a gun sanctuary county.
Laws, however, cannot be declared “unconstitutional” by such a referendum, but only by the judiciary (in the absence of a constitutional amendment). Most importantly, what kind of message is it to give our children and grandchildren that, because one does not like a law, that law need not be enforced?
We live in a society organized by laws that allow people to live, work, interact and hopefully prosper in relative peace. Anarchy is not the answer. Chaos will ensue in law enforcement if the simple act of crossing a county or municipal border determines whether or not statewide laws will be enforced.
The gun laws passed by the State of Illinois are not extreme (and, in fact, do not go far enough to ensure
public safety) and are not allowing the government “to come for your guns” as is often falsely claimed. They are designed to allow civil society to function. Our children should not have to fear for their lives when they go to school or worry that their parents will not return home at night because of a work-related incident and no one should face violence because of the presence of an assault rifle or gun in the hands of someone who should not have it.
As parents, we should want to ensure that our children do not accidently shoot their siblings, a tragic event leading to the death or injury of a child and the mental and psychologic pain and damage inflicted on a family. I believe that the people of Madison County should and will vote “no” to making Madison County a gun sanctuary county!
Pamella Gronemeyer, M.D. is an anatomic and clinical pathologist. She received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St.Louis and her medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the director and a woman small-business owner of SEMC Pathology in Highland,IL , a pathology business that provides pathology services to six critical access hospitals in southwestern Illinois- St. Joseph’s Hospital (Highland,IL), Red Bud Regional hospital (Red Bud),Washington County Hospital (Nashville,Ill.), Pinckneyville Community Hospital (Pinckneyville), Marshall Browning Hospital (Du Quoin) and Community Memorial Hospital (Staunton) and two gastrointestinal laboratories. SEMC Pathology owns and operates a CAP accredited anatomic and cytology laboratory performing gynecologic and nongynecologic cytologies and some infectious disease testing. She is actively involved in the hospitals working on quality assurance activities and advocating for patient safety. She is the co-president of Physicians for a National Health Program Illinois, the vice president of the board of the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, and vice president of Missourians for Single Payer. She is an activist in her community and in the health-care arena.