Monroe County will be represented on U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart’s new Southern Illinois Gun Task Force, which was formed in the wake of President Barack Obama’s proposed gun control plan earlier this year.
Enyart, a self-described proud gun owner, avid hunter and conservationist, named Perry County Clerk Kevin Kern to head this task force. Among the members recently chosen by Enyart and Kern to join them is Deb West of Waterloo.
West has been employed at Human Support Services since 1990. HSS provides mental health and substance abuse services in Monroe County. She currently serves as Day Services and Residential Services Director and Chief Compliance Officer at the agency.
An estimated 40 persons contacted Enyart with desires to serve on this task force, West said, with eight ultimately appointed.
“I believe hunting and mental health work were key factors for me,” she said.
West has been a hunter since was 16, she told the Republic-Times. She is also a member of Retrievers Unlimited Hunting Retriever Club.
“I believe hunting is one of the best conservation tools out there,” she said. “I never shoot anything that doesn’t make it to my table. West also teaches Illinois Hunter Safety courses, and is a National Rifle Association instructor for pistol, shotgun, rifle, black powder and home defense.
“Our ancestors wouldn’t have survived without hunting,” she said. “It puts one in tune with Mother Nature.”
West said the task force hopes to meet for the first time next week.
In announcing the formation of this task force, Enyart said: “We have heard from the President and it’s time to hear from Southern Illinois, because it is essential that our Southern Illinois values are protected. This Southern Illinois Gun Task Force is an important step to ensure we safeguard our Second Amendment rights, address barriers to mental health care, punish offenders who lie on background checks, and work responsibly to reduce gun violence.”