Multiple sheriff’s departments in Illinois said they will not enforce the state’s new gun law, signed by Gov. J. B. Pritzker on Jan. 10.
House Bill 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, caps sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines, bans “switches” that convert legal handguns into “assault” weapons, and extends the ability of courts to prevent individuals from possessing a gun through firearm restraining orders. According to a press release from Pritzker’s office, “the law also requires existing owners of semi-automatic rifles to register their ownership, ensuring that law enforcement knows the location of these weapons of war and who to hold accountable if they fall into the wrong hands.”
The bill passed the Illinois House by a vote of 68-41.
“The law that is now in place will save lives,” Pritzker said. “And it won’t just be one life, it will be hundreds, or potentially thousands of lives.”
According to ABC 7 Chicago, over two dozen sheriffs have issued statements saying they will refuse to enforce the weapons ban.
Robb Tadelman, sheriff of McHenry County, issued a statement on Jan. 11 saying that he among many others, believes “that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution.” He cited his responsibility to protect the rights of the citizens of McHenry County to keep and bear arms.
Tadelman said that neither he nor his office “will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will be arresting or housing law abiding individuals that have been charged solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
Sheriffs from several other counties issued statements nearly identical to Tadelman’s.
Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine issued a joint statement on Jan. 12 stating that they expect the new law to face legal challenges and “trust that this legislative overreach will not stand.”
“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,” the statement said.
Sheriff Ron Hain (Kane County) said his office will not “be putting them in handcuffs and slapping a felony charge on them, maybe take it for safe keeping, but we don’t want to ruin someone’s [life] on something they are confused about.”
Pritzker has responded by threatening the employment of state law enforcement.
“The reality is that the state police is responsible for enforcement, as are all law enforcement, all across the state,” Pritzker said. “And they will, in fact, do their job or they won’t be in their job.”
Many expect the law to eventually reach the Illinois Supreme Court.