FILE – In this Oct. 20, 2017 file photo, Johnny’s Auction House owner John West prepares items, including a line of assault rifles at left, for auction where the company handles gun sales for both civilians and a half dozen police departments and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, in Rochester, Wash. The Spokane City Council is considering a proposal to prohibit the police department from selling forfeited firearms, following an Associated Press investigation that found that more than a dozen guns sold by law enforcement agencies in Washington state ended up in new police investigations. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
In response to the Coronavirus crisis, the mayor of Champaign, IL, Deborah Frank Feinen, issued an executive order (EO) declaring an emergency in the city. The EO would grant the mayor the authority to exercise extraordinary powers on a temporary basis.
WAND-TV reports the EO includes the following ordinances:
Violating parts of the Open Meetings Act
Ban sale of firearms and ammunition
Ban sale of any alcohol
Closing of all bars, taverns, liquor stores, etc
Ban sale or giving away of gasoline or other liquid flammable or combustible products in any container other than a gasoline tank permanently fixed to a motor vehicle
Direct the shutoff of power, water, gas, etc
Take possession of private property and obtain full title to same
Prohibit or restrict ingress and egress to and from the City
The city’s Communications Manager, Jeff Hamilton, told WAND-TV, “The executive order allows the city to be flexible to properly respond to the emergency needs of our community. None of the options will necessarily will be implemented but are available in order to protect the welfare and safety of our community if needed.”
Concerned about several “false claims circulating online,” city managers released the statement below. They emphasized:
To be clear, there is currently no firearm ban and no intent to seize property or close businesses. Additionally, there are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol or gas or the ability to enter or leave Champaign.
The document cites 11 of the provisions and ends with the following:
The mayor has the authority to exercise other emergency powers under the Champaign Municipal Code Section 12-39 which have been in existence since 2006; however, and under the known circumstances, no further measures are anticipated.
Special Statement Clarifying City Code Provisions approved 3/13/20
WAND-TV notes that this statement includes only 11 of the 30 provisions which were voted on. WAND obtained a copy of the full ordinance proposed which can be viewed here.
Mayor Feinen told WAND, “So many of those powers, I have had from the beginning. All we have done is enumerate them and now the public is aware of them. So, I am the liquor commissioner. I can shut down bars yesterday, I could have shut them down two years ago. Nothing has changed with respect to that, it is just that we have laid it out, so people are aware of that. In respect to the other items that are listed in the attachment, they have been listed in the city code for 15 years.”
So, is this much ado about nothing, or is a power grab by the mayor of Champaign?
Frankly, I don’t think the residents of Champaign should be too worried about this. But this is something that Americans should pay attention to, especially those residing in states with governors who are strong advocates of gun control. A crisis like this presents an opportunity for a power grab and citizens should remain vigilant.