Regional Director Dave Randolph put together a superlative line-up for the February meeting at Coz’s Pizza in Mt. Zion. Among his announcements: he wants to retire from the Regional Director role. We’re looking for someone to take the position. It’s not that hard and there’s a great steering committee team there to help. Contact Dave or John Boch if you’re interested.

Pastor Steve Holden, one of the Illinois State Police chaplains, delivered the invocation for the night to close to 135 in attendance.

From there, The Bullet Trap’s proprietor Dan Cooley shared an Industry update. He’s heartened by the restraining order issued in Tom DeVore’s challenge and he expects more of the same. “I didn’t think this would come to pass, but John Boch was right,” he said with a chuckle, referring to the Bruen Supreme Court precedent helping to nudge courts our way.

The new gun ban has crippled business by easily 50% or more. Not only that, but some suppliers/distributors are balking at sending product to Illinois as they are unsure exactly what is prohibited by the new law. Cooley anticipates shops going out of business soon if this continues for long without relief from the courts.

Also worth mentioning, Cooley does a radio show every Tuesday on 100.9 FM at 7am and it’s rebroadcast at noon.

The Honorable State Rep. Dan Caulkins joined us for a report from Springfield. Pretty much nothing has happened in Springfield and he gave a first-person account of what’s happening with his lawsuit challenging the new gun ban with an association compared to a thousand or more named individual plaintiffs.

Caulkins raved over his attorney Jerry Stocks and his work improving upon Tom DeVore’s brief. He also thanked Dan Cooley and the Bullet Trap for their assistance as well.

Following John Boch’s Executive Director’s Update, Dave Randolph had Jeff Olson auction off a bucket of peanut butter cookies made by Joanne Chandler to benefit our lawyers fund. Jim Cleveland had the winning bid (I think) of $200. Congrats to him and while the cookies made it to the back of the packed room to Mr. Cleveland, they didn’t make it out of the building.

Auctioning cookies for a good cause in front of a standing-room only crowd is serious business. Above, Jeff Olson does this thing.

Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LOLHF) came out as our main speakers for the night. They talked about the tremendous program flying older veterans out to Washington D.C. to see the memorials, along with Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian. The trip is entirely free for Vietnam and older vets.

Joan Bartolon heads up the LOLHF chapter and she and their Veteran Coordinator Steve Wheeler spoke. The organization has grown from flying a handful of World War II veterans to the nation’s capital back in 2005 to flying thousands each year by chartering entire jets.

It’s an all-volunteer charitable non-profit with less than a 1% overhead, and they get 100% of their funding from private individuals and corporate grants.

They do the single-day flights where they meet at the airport at 4a.m. and then return around 10pm that evening to hundreds of well-wishers welcoming them home as the heroes they are. It’s a very long day, obviously, but the Honor Flight people pack a lot into the experience.

Steve Wheeler from the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight group.

OF NOTE: Guns Save Life has “reserved” their April 2024 plane for GSL members, our family members, friends, neighbors and anyone else for a “GSL Honor Flight.” They’re asking us to collect the applications and submit them together by May 2023. If you know someone, or are eligible yourself, please grab an application at one of our meetings or download one from the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight website or from the GSL website. Get them to your local regional director as soon as possible.

For more on this, turn to page 13. We passed the hat to raise money for the Honor Flight people and collected $918 for a very worthy cause.

Three or four of those in attendance rose and spoke about their experience going on a flight as a guardian for a veteran. Every one of them got choked up recalling the experience and they offered glowing, rave reviews, recommending it to everyone to go – either as the veterans or as a guardian for a veteran. “Everyone treats these veterans like royalty during these trips,” one said.

An Honor Flight from 2016.

Guardians have to pay their own ticket for the flights (currently about $525-$550ish) but the experience is truly priceless. Veterans can request a guardian. If the veteran doesn’t have someone for whatever reason, Honor Flight does have “free agent” guardians who will step up and help. If you want to be a “free agent” guardian, either for the GSL flight or in general, download the application and submit it to Honor Flight (or to GSL leadership).

For Tech Time, we featured a bunch of air rifles, including a few that were approaching 100 years old, and several imported models. Some of them were museum quality.

One of those who came put his Airsoft sniper rifle on the auction block to raise money for Honor Flight. It sold for $260. GSL members are some of the most selfless, outstanding people out there.

Some of the samples brought including a couple of guns from the first half of the last century, including pistols and rifles along with reference materials.

From left, Beefy Bielfeldt, high bidder for the Airsoft gun, Bruce Hammerschmidt who won the 50/50 and Glenn Taylor who won the monthly “gun” drawing in Decatur.

We had the drawing for the 50/50 and Bruce Hammerschmidt won. Glenn Taylor won the Mantix X training system donated by The Bullet Trap in Macon, IL. Thanks to Dan Cooley for that!