Illinois Sheriffs Say They Won’t Enforce Ban on So-Called “Assault Weapons”

On January 11, 2022, several sheriffs in red counties announced they won’t enforce a new prohibition on “assault weapons” and magazines capable of holding over 12 rounds. 

Iroquois County Sheriff Clinton J. Perzee was one of the most prominent Illinois law enforcement officials who went on social media following the ban’s passage to argue that it is an infringement on the Second Amendment.

“The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people,” Perzee declared  in a letter. “I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Caden Pearson of The Epoch Times noted that on December 13, 2022, the Iroquois County Board passed Resolution R2022-102 as a means of opposing the bill being enacted. In this resolution, the county vowed to not enforce or support the law via the “use of county funds, appropriation, personnel, or property.”

In addition, Perzee announced that neither he nor his office would bother to verify 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.”

Similarly, Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe went on social media to emphasize that he swore to uphold the constitutional rights of Americans once he assumed office. 

“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 said in a letter. “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.”

Pearson observed that “Nearly identical letters were shared by sheriffs from 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, and more.”

The office of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declared that law enforcement officials’ anti-gun control messages are “political grandstanding at its worst.”  The governor’s office asserted that sheriffs and departments that fail to enforce the prohibition are “in violation of their oath of office.”

The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association (ISA) issued a statement where it declared that it was “extremely disappointed” the gun control bill was enacted, which only increases regulation on otherwise popularly-owned firearms. 

“The ISA has opposed this legislation throughout its development and remains opposed to the bill as passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor,” ISA’s statement noted. “We, as a representative of chief law enforcement officials throughout Illinois, are very concerned and disturbed by the ongoing and escalating violence throughout our State and Country.”

“We are always supportive of new tools, techniques and laws that assist us in preventing and holding accountable those that wage efforts of harm and violence on others,” the ISA added. “However, this new law does not do that. We will continue to advocate on behalf of Sheriffs and the law-abiding citizens throughout Illinois.”

Gun Owners of America believes the law prohibits a multitude of commonly-owned rifles. In addition, GOA believes the bill’s registration requirement for firearms within the state is unconstitutional. 

“Not only does this tyrannical proposition infringe on the rights of all Illinois citizens, but it is also extremely dangerous,” GOA declared in a statement.

“These commonly owned semi-automatic firearms are used countless times every year to save lives and deter crime. Banning them will only prevent law-abiding citizens from purchasing the best firearm to defend themselves,” the statement added. “Not to mention, the requirement to register currently owned firearms is vehemently unconstitutional.”

Illinois is one of the most anti-gun states in the Union, as evidenced by its dismal 41st place ranking in Guns & Ammo magazine’s rankings for best states for gun owners. The state is a monolithically blue state where conservatives have very little ability to impact public policy. 

As a result, Illinois gun owners will have to rely on sheriffs and local governing bodies to oppose state-level gun control. For these disgruntled residents, nullification is the only way for them to maintain some semblance of traditional American freedoms within their jurisdictions. Or they will have to leave for greener pastures in red states. There are simply no easy ways out in this increasingly polarized polity. 

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