U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker quickly became furious when what appears to be a majority of Prairie State county sheriffs announced they will not enforce the state’s new restrictive gun control law banning so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.
According to MyStateLine, the new law requires current owners of affected guns to register them with the State Police. It also bans the future sales “of about 100 different semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles.”
Pritzker, who speedily signed the legislation, had a fit when sheriffs began telling their constituents they won’t enforce the ban. According to WGN and WTVO, “As are all law enforcement all across our state and they will in fact do their job or they won’t be in their job,” Pritzker told reporters.
But Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, which is preparing to file a federal lawsuit against the new law, told Ammoland News in a telephone conversation sheriffs are elected, and Pritzker cannot fire them.
“I don’t know how much (the resistance by sheriffs) will play into” the lawsuit scenario, Pearson said.
But he does know how the public is reacting, and up and down the state, “people are furious.” Since Pritzker signed the legislation—HB 5471—Pearson said the ISRA office telephones have been “ringing off the hook.”
In addition to banning future sales of semiautomatic firearms, the new law bans .50-caliber firearms.
KSDK News reported Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen and Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl posted on their department Facebook pages they will not enforce the law. McMillan accurately predicted his decision would get plenty of concurring opinions from other Illinois sheriffs. Sheriff Kahl said he believes the new law violates the Second Amendment.
Likewise, according to MyStateLine, Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Lee County Sheriff Clayton Whelan and Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle shared the same sentiments. In their statement, they said HB 5471 “is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment.”
ShawLocal.com reported that DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan, among others, issued a statement drafted by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.
“As the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official,” Sullivan said, “[I] proclaim 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 gun individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
As it turns out, Illinois is not the only state where sheriffs are fed up with gun control laws pushed by governors. Out in Washington State, where Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson are calling for an “assault weapon” ban, the Washington State Sheriff’s Association issued a letter declaring, “We…believe the proposed restrictions will serve to erode constitutionally protected rights without addressing the root causes of violent crime. We are particularly concerned with the proposed so-called ‘assault weapons ban’ and ‘permit to purchase’ laws.
“Restrictions that shift focus from offenders to law-abiding citizens send the wrong message and erode constitutional guarantees upheld by the United States Supreme Court,” the letter adds.
“The Governor’s proposed legislation is also inconsistent with Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution, which mirrors the language of the Federal Second Amendment,” the sheriffs say. “The new proposals to restrict gun ownership would further infringe on rights that have been clearly and repeatedly established.”
Pritzker and Illinois Democrats call their new law the “Protect Illinois Communities Act.” County sheriffs now saying they won’t enforce the law’s provisions evidently believe this law’s title is wholly erroneous.
Published reports quote Ogle County’s VanVickle, who observed, “This appears to be another rush to judgment on a bill that was introduced with very little oversight and very little public review.”
Concurring, Stephenson County Sheriff Steve Stovall stated, “There is so many unknowns, it’s another one of those laws that passed that they put unrealistic expectations out there, and there is no way to follow those things up.”
Pearson, at the ISRA offices, told AmmoLand one development in the aftermath of Pritzker’s bill signing is that his organization’s membership numbers are climbing. Every year, ISRA sponsors an event in Springfield, the state capital, that attracts several thousand gun owners. This rally and march are called IGOLD, and Pearson said this year’s event, scheduled March 29, will likely see a record turnout if current emotions continue running high.
As noted by KSDK News, Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor and Tom Haine, the county’s State’s Attorney, issued a joint statement that noted, “…We expect a strong court challenge to HB 5471 in short order. We trust that this legislative overreach will not stand. In the meantime, we remain focused on reducing violent crime. Therefore, pending further direction by the courts, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office will not expend its limited resources to check whether otherwise law-abiding gun owners have registered their weapons with the State, nor will the Madison County Sheriff’s Office be arresting or housing otherwise law-abiding individuals solely due to non-compliance with HB 5471.”
Writing on Facebook, Stephenson County’s Stovall summed it up: “Let me be clear, this piece of legislation will do nothing to make our communities safer! Criminals don’t follow the laws. That is what makes them criminals. This unconstitutional legislation infringes on our 2nd Amendment Rights, which makes any enforcement of HB5471 contrary to my oath of office.”
Pretty soon, that sentiment will likely be at the heart of ISRA’s promised federal lawsuit.
About Dave Workman