Some Illinois Sheriffs Say Departments Will Not Comply With Assault Weapon Registration Requirements

Sheriffs in other counties have followed suit, with Pritzker's office saying that law enforcement is not permitted to "pick and choose" which laws they enforce

As potential legal fights percolate over Illinois’ new assault weapons ban, law enforcement officials in several counties have said that their departments will not enforce provisions of the bill that require existing weapons to be registered with the State Police.

Their arguments center around their stance that the bill, which makes it illegal for Illinois residents to purchase, transfer or manufacture assault weapons and extended magazines, violates the Second Amendment.

McHenry County Sheriff Robb Tadelman was one of numerous law enforcement officials throughout the state who shared messages on social media in the aftermath of the bill’s passage.  

“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 charged solely with non-compliance with this act,” he said.

Many of those law enforcement officials shared identical messages, including Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey, Sheriff Jack Harlan in Boone County and Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.

In a statement, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office called the messages “political grandstanding at its worst,” and said that sheriffs and departments that refuse to enforce the ban are “in violation of their oath of office.”

“The assault weapons ban is the law of Illinois. The General Assembly passed the bill and the governor signed it into law to protect children in schools, worshippers at church and families at parades from the fear of sudden mass murder,” a spokesperson said. “Sheriffs have a constitutional duty to uphold the laws of the state, not pick and choose which laws they support and when.”

While legal challenges have been promised against the legislation, state Democrats have said they are confident the bill will stand up to scrutiny.

“We’re confident that this law will hold up to any future legal challenges,” Pritzker’s spokesperson said.

Former State Rep and gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey was one of several Republican lawmakers who said they would not comply with the legislation, as was State Rep. Blaine Wilhour.

“We will not comply with this legislation because we don’t have to,” he said. “Our Constitution protects us. The sponsors of this bill may have won a temporary victory today, but they will lose because they cannot get around the rights we have guaranteed in our Constitution.”

In his press availability after signing the law Tuesday, Pritzker criticized elected officials that had made the threats, and said that police officers who refuse to enforce the bill would face the loss of their jobs as a result.  

“Anybody who doesn’t comply, there are consequences for that,” he said. “You don’t get to choose which laws you comply with in the state of Illinois. The State Police is responsible for enforcement, as are all law enforcement all across this state. They will, in fact, do their job or they won’t be in their job.”

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