Illinois sheriffs oppose state assault weapons ban bill

Illinois sheriffs oppose state assault weapons ban bill
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 2:49 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:43 PM CST
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WABASH CO., Ill. (WFIE) - Wabash County Sheriff J. Derek Morgan issued a statement on Wednesday, voicing his opposition to a new bill that makes it illegal to deliver, sell or purchase any assault weapons in Illinois.

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 5471 into law, otherwise known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act. The bill bans assault-style weapons, limits the number of magazine rounds to 10 for long guns and 15 for handguns, as well as requires gun owners to register their rifles’ serial numbers to Illinois State Police.

“This is something we’ve been looking at for a while and we knew it was coming,” Sheriff Morgan said.

Multiple Illinois sheriff’s offices posted on social media Wednesday, explaining why they wouldn’t enforce the law. Four Tri-State sheriff’s offices joined that group, including Wayne, White, Edwards and Wabash Counties.

“If you read through it, you can see it’s a clear violation of the second amendment,” Sheriff Morgan said.

Sheriff Morgan says he stands by the post, and he added that in the days the bill circulated through the state government, his office was busy.

“On the days it was on the House floor and it was on the Senate, I was receiving calls and people would stop by the office and ask me where I stood with this law,” Sheriff Morgan said. “They were worried they were going to have to register their guns, or get rid of guns, or hide their guns.”

Gov. Pritzker says he’s already been made aware of sheriffs who chose to not enforce the law.

“They took an oath of office to uphold the law,” Gov. Pritzker said. “As law enforcement that’s their job, and I expect them to do their job.”

Even though the law is going to be mainly enforced by Illinois State Police, Gov. Pritzker says the bill received overwhelming support, even in rural southeastern Illinois.

“The reality is the laws that are on the books, you don’t get to choose which ones people are going to follow,” Gov. Pritzker said.

The state of Washington dealt with a similar situation back in 2019.

A similar law was met with opposition from local law enforcement. Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson said if the lack of enforcement led to a crime, the local sheriff would be held liable.

“Liability is the keyword in law enforcement anymore, so we’re used to that,” Sheriff Morgan said.

Sheriff Morgan says the new law will not fix the violence they have been seeing throughout the state, especially up north in the Chicago area.

“You can enact all the laws you want but until we start punishing the people who break the law, we’re going to continue to see what we’re seeing,” Sheriff Morgan said.

14 News has reached out to Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Office, but we are waiting on a statement regarding Raoul’s next steps in this situation.

Sheriff Morgan released the following statement on Wednesday in response to the new law:

White County Sheriff Jordan Weiss also issued a similar statement on Wednesday.

You can read it below:

Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe and Wayne County Sheriff Chris Otey also released statements in response to the bill.