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More county sheriffs say they won't enforce Illinois assault weapons ban

Sheriffs say they won't enforce Illinois assault weapons ban over constitutional concerns
Sheriffs say they won't enforce Illinois assault weapons ban over constitutional concerns 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More and more Illinois sheriffs are joining the bandwagon, saying they will not enforce the assault weapons ban signed into law this week.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Friday, some of the sheriffs' statements vary – but all of them cite Second Amendment constitutional concerns.

They say they will not be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State of Illinois, nor will they be arresting "law-abiding individuals" who have been charged solely with not complying.

So far in the greater Chicago area, the list includes the DeKalb, DuPage, McHenry, LaSalle, Grundy, Kankakee, and Kane County sheriffs.


Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain's stance is a little more nuanced than the rest. He said Friday that his office will not "proactively investigate" legal, Firearm Owners Identification card-holding gun owners and seize their weapons.

"People who are lawful FOID card holders - going into their homes and looking for assault rifles - not going to do that," Hain said. "What we will do is, again, enforce it with people involved in violent acts or in the in the conduct of a criminal investigation. We will enhance charges using this new law."

Hickey asked Hain what he would say to critics who argue it is not the duty of the sheriff to interpret the Constitution.

"Yes, I am a constitutional office. I do take an oath to uphold the Constitution. There are questions about the constitutionality of it," Hain said, "and so yes, it is actually my job to do my best to research that, and ensure that I am, you know, having an equal balance of justice here."

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday called the collective stance by the sheriffs political grandstanding. Attorney General Kwame Raoul said if sheriffs' deputies will not enforce the law, others law enforcement agencies will. 

"Sheriffs are entrusted by the public to enforce the law. They don't get to choose which laws they enforce. They must enforce what we've written into the code - the General Assembly, signed by the governor," Pritzker said. "And they will do so."

"There is overlap in jurisdiction as well," added Raoul. "If they don't do their jobs, there are other people available to do the job."

More sheriffs say they won't enforce Illinois assault weapons ban 02:11

Meanwhile, Knox County State's Attorney Jeremy Karlin has an interesting perspective on the matter.

"Sheriffs can't pick and choose what laws they choose to enforce," Karlin said.

Karlin said he has his own constitutional concerns about the ban. But says ultimately, prosecutors decide is charges are filed - and this matter should play out through the legal system first.

"The proper way of handling it is saying: 'We disagree with this law. We are prepared to enforce it as we are required to - and in the meantime, we will take the proper steps to see that our position is heard in an Illinois court.'"

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley issued a statement following the passage of the law, saying he believes the law "may infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens." But Kelley's statement did not address enforcement, saying rather that the constitutionality of the law is sure to be challenged.

"I look forward to the court ruling in order to help clarify the many unanswered questions that we all have," Kelley wrote.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department has said it will enforce the ban.  So far, the Cook County Sheriff's Department has not made an official statement, but noted that Sheriff Tom Dart testified in favor of the assault weapons ban - HB5471.  

Illinois State Police said they are still in the process of updating training and providing clarity for officers to enforce this new law. 

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