Illinois governor threatens to “fire” sheriffs who refuse to enforce state’s unconstitutional gun grab


The following includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer, a retired police chief and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

SPRINGFIELD, IL- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who aspires to run for president, but looks to be auditioning to be the poster child for  Nutrisystem, is threatening law enforcement officials who have publicly stated they will not enforce the state’s new draconian (and likely unconstitutional) ban on so-called “assault weapons,” Hot Air reports.

Pritzker, without detailing exactly how he planned to do so, has threatened to “fire” any law enforcement officers who refuse to enforce the ban.

This comes as a number of sheriffs departments and other law enforcement entities across the state have said they will not enforce the new law.

For the most part, it is the more rural, conservative areas of the state where sheriffs are saying they will not enforce the measure, however it appears to be spreading elsewhere.

Last Tuesday, Pritzker said anyone who refuses to enforce the ban will be fired. The problem is, Pritzker doesn’t appear to have the legal authority to do so, in particular because sheriffs in Illinois are elected, not appointed.

According to Fox News:

After several Illinois law enforcement agencies said they won’t enforce the new gun ban, Gov. J.B. Pritzker had a strong response: Comply or hit the road.

“As are all law enforcement all across our state and they will in fact do their job or they won’t be in their job,” Pritzker said Tuesday during a press conference.

Locally, sheriff’s departments in Winnebago, Ogle, Stephenson and Lee counties, among others, have said they will not enforce the new law, which makes more than 100 guns and magazines illegal because the state deems them “assault weapons.”

The law, the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” was signed into law by Pritzker last week. The law bans the sale of so-called assault weapons in the state, and further requires owners of such weapons to register them with law enforcement before the end of this year,’ reported WCIA.

Iroquois County Sheriff Clint Perzee told residents in a letter that his office will not enforce the law:

As your sheriff, I wanted to give citizens of Iroquois County an update on the recent passage of HB 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act.

As your duly elected sheriff my job and my office are sworn, in fact, to protect the citizens of Iroquois County. This is a job and responsibility that I take with the utmost seriousness.

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.

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 a Custodian of the Jail and Chief Law Enforcement Official for Iroquois 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 with this act.

Pritzker meanwhile accused the sheriffs of “grandstanding,” NBC5-Chicago reports.

“It’s political grandstanding by elected officials. These are elected sheriffs,” the rotund Pritzker said.

“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.”

In addition to Perzee, McHenry County Sheriff Robb Tadelman said they wouldn’t enforce portions of the bill, including the requirement to register “assault weapons” with the state.

“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.

Others agree that the new law seems to violate the Second Amendment, including Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, who said he believes the measure unfairly targets gun owners.

He said that his department would also not proactively look for residents who own “assault weapons,” however if a criminal suspect is found to be in possession of one of the banned weapons they will enforce the law.

“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.

An infographic compiled by WEHT showed an overwhelming majority of Illinois counties have vowed to disregard the new measure.

Illinois governor threatens to "fire" sheriffs who refuse to enforce state's unconstitutional gun grab
Map shows Illinois counties where sheriffs refuse to enforce new gun-grabbing measure- Infographic courtesy WEHT, created by Datawrapper

Pritzker’s threats to “fire” the sheriffs is nothing but bloviating nonsense. According to the Illinois state constitution, it specifically addresses the state’s sheriffs, stating they are “accountable directly to the constitution of their state, the United States Constitution, and the citizens of their county.”

The only way those particular sheriffs can be removed is if voters in their respective counties vote them out during the next election. In fact, there is no recall provision within the state’s constitution, with only a provision included to remove the state’s governor.

The assault weapons ban is currently being challenged in court, and is likely on life support, since the United States Supreme Court has provided ample precedent for the measure to be gutted.

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