The statute, which is being heavily criticized as anti-Second Amendment and potentially unconstitutional, not only calls for banning new sales of so-called "assault weapons," but while it allows current owners to keep the weapons they have, they must register them with the Illinois State Police, and that is where the sheriffs have drawn a line.
The Democrat-controlled state legislature imposed a ban on a variety of semiautomatic guns, magazines, and devices that allow a weapon to fire more quickly on Monday.
The Protecting Illinois Communities Act passed the Illinois Senate on Monday night by a vote margin of 34–20. The bill makes it illegal for Illinois residents to purchase, transfer, or manufacture “assault weapons” and extended magazines. According to the bill’s language, an “assault weapon” is a semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has a pistol grip or thumbhole stock, a flash suppressor, a grenade launcher, a barrel shroud, or other characteristics.
“I’m signing this legislation tonight so it can take immediate effect,” Pritzker said in a press conference, local media reported on Tuesday.
In a letter posted to Facebook, Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen wrote that he plans to follow his “morals, beliefs, and obligations concerning protecting the rights” of the citizens of his county.
“These types of laws put law enforcement officers and prosecutors in a very precarious box, with us having to decide to not enforce laws that were passed by government bodies,” McMillen wrote. “But, as your Greene County Sheriff, I cannot sit back and let laws strip Greene County citizens of their constitutional rights, and not take a stance supporting the citizens against a government that wants to trample on their rights.”
Meanwhile, Iroquois County Sheriff Clinton J. Perzee noted in a letter of his own, “The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people. I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
His letter followed a Dec. 13 vote by the Iroquois County Board implementing a measure that forbids the “use of county funds, appropriation, personnel, or property" to enforce the law, The Epoch Times noted further.
Perzee said that neither he nor his 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.”
Clinton County Sheriff Dan Travous, Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl, and Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing all made similar statements and commitments to their residents.
Also, Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor, in conjunction with the county’s State’s Attorney Tom Haine, noted in a joint statement that they expect the law will face legal challenges and “trust that this legislative overreach will not stand.”
“In the meantime, we remain focused on reducing violent crime,” their letter reads. “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 [the law].”
Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe also took to social media with an almost identical vow not to enforce the law.
“Part of my duties that I accepted upon being sworn into office was to protect the rights provided to all of us, in the Constitution,” Boewe wrote on Facebook. “One of those rights enumerated is the right of the people to KEEP and BEAR ARMS provided under the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people.”
Logan County, Kankakee County, Piatt County, LaSalle County, Knox County, Pike County, Putnam County, St. Clair County, Union County, Wabash County, Woodford County, Williamson County, Wayne County, Shelby County, Ogle County, Jo Daviess County, and more posted similar letters.