At least 74 Illinois sheriffs declared they will not check for compliance with a new state law banning so-called assault weapons. The defiant sheriffs have further vowed not to arrest people just for violating the requirement to register their lawfully owned weapons.
The governor of Illinois signed HB 5471 after the state Senate passed its version of the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” last Monday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) approved the legislation that bans manufacturing and sales of certain semiautomatic rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns and attachments capable of increasing firing rate, according to a Fox News report.
The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association issued a statement Wednesday expressing its opposition to the new gun control law, according to an ABC News report. The report noted dozens of sheriff’s offices began to post almost identical messages of opposition.
Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk claimed he authored the statement that sheriffs in many counties began to sign or modify.
DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick expressed belief that the ability to bear arms for protection of life and liberty is an inalienable right.
“I, among many others, believe HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution,” Mendrick said Friday in a statement. “Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for DuPage County, that neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
Mendrick’s county, with a 2020 census population nearing one million, is the largest Illinois county to defy the Legislature and Gov. Pritzker.
Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg addressed his position about HB 5471 in a Thursday statement, pointing to an earlier release, according to a report from the Lake & McHenry County Scanner.
Idleburg’s department responded to the July 4 parade shooting in Highland Park. He referred to a previously released statement noting society has become numb to mass shootings.
“I truly hope this is the last mass shooting we live through before assault-style rifles are banned,” Idleburg said after the Highland Park shooting. “Assault-style rifles are nothing more than killing machines, and they have no place in a civilized society.”
The sheriff of Cook County, which reportedly experiences about 40 percent of the state’s gun violence, has not made a public declaration about the new gun control law.
“We will not be enforcing it in this county,” Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard Sr. said in a video. “I will also not house anyone in my jail that has violated this act because we know it to be an unlawful act by the general assembly and the governor.”