Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) | repcaulkins.com
State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) wonders if things can ever be the same in Illinois in the wake of coronavirus crisis.
“I understand the concept of social distancing and cutting back on nonessential gatherings and trying to keep people safe,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “If we need to separate ourselves and stay home when we can for a couple weeks to tamp things down, I’m on board with that. But my concerns about our civil liberties being trampled on are just as big. Giving a mayor or governor the power to restrict our liberties anyway they see fit is a big deal. Once we give up some of these things, I don’t know how hard it’s going to be to reclaim them.”
In Champaign, a city ordinance has been enacted that gives the mayor and City Council the power to do everything from limit gun sales to ration utilities and seize private property. The newly approved legislation also gives leaders the power to impose emergency curfews, bar residents from public buildings and shutter businesses over the next 28 days.
More recently, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker moved to enact a “stay at home” order for all residents that is in effect through Tuesday, April 7.
“We give a mayor the power to restrict tour right to limit gun and ammunition sales,” Caulkins said. “That is a huge violation of our Second Amendment rights that does nothing to help protect us from the coronavirus.”
While city attorney Fred Stavins stressed that no added actions are currently being called for and that the policies have actually been part of the city code for more than a decade, Caulkins has other concerns.
“I think the closure of state parks and other recreational areas are also a huge overreach,” he said. “The best cure for any virus is fresh air and sunshine. We should be encouraging people to get some fresh air while also taking every precaution to protect ourselves. Closing state recreational facilities, I think sends the wrong message.”