Sheriffs in approximately 80 Illinois counties say they will not enforce the state’s “assault weapons” ban, to which Governor Pritzker has responded by saying the sheriffs are guilty of “political grandstanding.”
It is now illegal to buy or sell more than 170 semi-automatic firearms in Illinois.
Those who owned such guns before the ban went into effect Tuesday — when the governor signed the measure — must register them with Illinois State Police by January 1, 2024.
There is also a ban on long gun magazines of more than 10 rounds and handgun magazines of more than 15 rounds.
Sheriffs and state’s attorneys from across the state say they will not enforce the ban and registry.
“The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people,” said Iroquois County Sheriff Clinton Perzee.
“I, among many others, believe that [House Bill 5471] is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution,” Perzee said.
Perzee said he will not use his jail to detain individuals exercising their civil rights.
“[N]either 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,” Perzee said.
After signing the measure Tuesday, Pritzker told law enforcement they need to enforce the law or leave the job.
At an unrelated event in Quincy on Thursday, the governor reiterated that sentiment.
“They took an oath of office to uphold the law. As law enforcement, that’s their job and I expect them to do that job,” Pritzker said.
Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said he will not jail people who solely violate the ban and his oath is to uphold the constitution.
“Just because they had enough votes to pass this, time will tell whether or not it upholds constitutional scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean we have to enforce it if we clearly know this is a violation of our Second Amendment rights,” Campbell told WMAY.
“It’s political grandstanding by elected officials. These are elected sheriffs,” Pritzker said during an evening interview with MSNBC.
It is expected that gun-owner rights groups will file lawsuits in federal court against the measure as early as next week.
Dozens of counties across the state have already declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary counties. Pritzker dismissed that Thursday.
“You can have all the resolutions and declarations that you want, the reality is that the laws that are on the books, you don’t get to choose which ones people are going to follow,” Pritzker said.
Kourtney Redmond, Illinois state director with the National African American Gun Association, opposes the gun ban.
He was encouraged some counties are not going to enforce it but worry about the ones that will, predicting it could lead to mass incarceration.
“Maybe St. Clair County, where you have a Black population, and then you have Cook County,” Redmond told The Center Square. “They’re going to enforce the laws and so that’s going to happen in our neighborhoods. It’s going to happen in Black and brown neighborhoods.”
St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson said in a statement he’s disappointed with the enactment of the law.
“I do not believe we should limit the protections that have been guaranteed to law-abiding citizens in the United States Constitution,” Watson said. “I will be supportive to any constitutional challenges that may occur.”
Watson did not explicitly say he would not enforce the measure as other sheriffs have.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart testified in support of a weapons ban during a House Committee hearing last month.
Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said in a statement on Thursday that he is highly supportive of the new law and that his office would enforce it.
Absent a court order blocking the measure, guns would need to be registered by the end of the year or owners could be charged with a Class 2 felony.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner and The Center Square both contributed to this report.