A group of sheriffs from across Illinois have said that they do not intend to enforce portions of the state’s new assault weapons ban, a stance that does not sit well with Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Pritzker, who signed the bill into law on Tuesday, said that the announcements are nothing more than “political grandstanding” during an interview with MSNBC.
“It’s political grandstanding by elected officials. These are elected sheriffs,” he said.
Pritzker says he is confident that the new bill, which would ban the purchase, manufacture or transfer of assault weapons and extended magazines in Illinois, will withstand legal scrutiny, and says that sheriffs are required by their oath of office to enforce the law.
“It’s our state police and law enforcement across the state that will, in fact, enforce this law, and these outlier sheriffs will comply or, frankly, they’ll have to answer to the voters,” Pritzker said.
The comments from the governor come after a group of Illinois sheriffs, including McHenry County’s Robb Tadelman and Kankakee County’s Mike Downey, said that they would not enforce portions of the bill, including the requirement for those who currently own assault weapons to register them with the state police.
“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,” Tadelman said.
Several sheriffs shared similarly-worded messages, including Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain put out his own statement, detailing similar issues with the ban as other law enforcement officials. He says he’s concerned that the bill violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and that it unfairly targets gun owners.
While Hain says his department will not proactively seek out those who own the weapons and have failed to register them, he did say that the department will enforce the letter of the law if a criminal suspect is also accused of illegally possessing assault weapons.
“If we’re investigating a crime, and we come across weapons like that, that are listed in the ban, then I will direct my deputies to take enforcement action on that,” he said.
Conservative groups have indicated that they will sue the state over the ban, which is set to officially take effect on Jan. 1.