DuPage County Sheriff joins list of those refusing to enforce assault weapons ban

Headshot of DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick
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DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick has joined a growing list of sheriffs across the state that say they will not fully enforce the newly passed assault weapons ban signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.

Mendrick says assault weapons ban violates 2nd Amendment

In a press release issued today, Mendrick spoke about the passage of House Bill 5471, saying:

“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 US Constitution.

Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for DuPage County, 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 individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”

Mendrick is one of more than two dozen sheriffs statewide who have now publicly spoken out in a refusal to support the ban.

What does HB 5471 ban?

HB 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, bans the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches that allow handguns to fire rounds automatically.

It also “extends the ability of courts to prevent dangerous individuals from possessing a gun through firearm restraining orders,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Those already in possession of the banned weapons are required to register them with the Illinois State Police.

The law took effect immediately on Tuesday with the governor’s signature.

At a press conference on Thursday, the governor said in response to those sheriffs who had spoken out to reject the ban, “…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.”

DuPage County Board Chair “disappointed” in Mendrick’s stance

DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy released a statement following Mendrick’s, voicing her disappointment with the sheriff’s stance. It reads in full:

“I was disappointed to read the statement released today by DuPage County Sheriff Jim Mendrick. On October 25, the DuPage County Board heard a moving account provided by Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering. She detailed the devastating impact one shooter and one automatic weapon had on her town. That day, the Board voted to support a state and federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Illinois Public Act 102-1116 accomplishes those two goals. As Chair of the DuPage County Board, I stand behind the legislation passed to ban assault weapons. As Governor Pritzker has said, ‘You don’t get to choose which laws you comply with in the state of Illinois.’ And I believe, in DuPage County, we should not be playing politics with state laws.”

Will County Sheriff questions ban, but stops short of pulling enforcement

Later today, Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley released a statement of his own.

He noted that he thought this ban would not accomplish the goal of increasing the safety of the community, and predicted it would be challenged in court. He said he would “look forward to the court ruling in order to help clarify the many unanswered questions that we all have.”

His full statement is as follows:

“Since the passing of Illinois House Bill 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, the Will County Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with various questions from the public regarding the recent passing of this Illinois Bill into law.
As your elected Sheriff, it is the responsibility of myself and Will County Sheriff’s Office deputies to protect all the citizens of Will County and safeguard their rights. The oath of safeguarding rights and protecting and serving our communities is something that we take very seriously.
As this bill was signed into law, it essentially bans the sale of different types of firearms, certain types of magazines, and firearm accessories to most citizens. It also requires existing owners of these banned firearms to register their ownership with the Illinois State Police sometime in 2024.
When I was elected Sheriff and sworn into office, I took an oath to protect the rights afforded to all citizens under the United States Constitution. One of those rights is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” provided under the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms for the defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people.
While I support gun legislation being created to increase the safety in our communities, I do not believe HB 5471 will accomplish this goal. I do believe that this bill may infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, and that this bill disarms those law-abiding citizens that I have been sworn to protect. The constitutionality of HB 5471 will most certainly be challenged in court, and I look forward to the court ruling in order to help clarify the many unanswered questions that we all have.
I understand there will be questions and concerns regarding the passing of this recent bill from the citizens of Will County. The Will County Sheriff’s Office is working with various law enforcement partners and organizations to determine and address the full ramifications of this legislation and address it appropriately.”
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.

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