Illinois sheriffs who are refusing to enforce the state’s new gun-control law are engaged in “political grandstanding” and are endangering the lives of residents, Democratic Governor JB Pritzker’s office said on Monday.
Last week, Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which prohibits the possession of semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and paves the way for expedited universal background checks. The legislation also requires firearm owners of now-restricted weapons to register with the state police.
Many sheriffs have vowed to defy the law, calling it a gross abuse of power.
“This is political grandstanding at its worst. The assault weapons ban is the law of Illinois,” Pritzker’s office said in a statement to Fox News. “The General Assembly passed the bill and the Governor signed it into law to protect children in schools, worshipers at church, and families at parades from the fear of sudden mass murder.”
As of Friday, at least 85 of Illinois’ 102 county sheriffs have pledged not to enforce the law to various degrees.
“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. One of those enumerated rights is the right of the people to KEEP and BEAR ARMS provided under the 2nd Amendment,” Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe wrote on Facebook.
“Therefore, as custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement officer for Edwards County, neither myself or my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the state, nor will we be arresting or housing individuals that have been charged with non-compliance of this act,” he said.
McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane has also promised not to implement the law, according to Cities 92.9 radio stations.
Pritzker has said the law was at least partially motivated by last year’s Independence Day shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park that left seven dead and dozens wounded. After the law was enacted, President Joe Biden commended the state, saying it “turned the pain of Highland Park and other acts of gun violence into meaningful action on behalf of all Illinoisans.”
Pritzker thanks Biden for the praise: “Thank you, @POTUS for your partnership as we fight to make every community safe.”
The law, which also outlaws the delivery, sale, or purchase of ammunition magazines of more than ten rounds for rifles or shotguns and 15 rounds for handguns, has angered some gun shop owners, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Roger Krahl, the owner of R-Guns in Carpentersville, told the paper that it is a “tragedy” that law-abiding residents will be stripped of some gun rights. The law will also likely cause economic hardship for his industry in Illinois, he said.
“They essentially killed our retail or sales within the state,” Krahl said. “There’s not a whole lot left that will be enough to support a business. I think that the state has just put a lot of hardworking people out of business and on the unemployment line.”
The National Rifle Association said it is fighting Pritzker’s tires. After the Highland Park shooting, Pritzker told the NRA to “leave us the hell alone” in response to a tweets from the organization that cited gun-free zone crime statistics.