DuPage County Sheriff Won’t be Censured Over Opposition to Illinois Assault Weapons Ban

Gun Rights

DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick will not face censure after comments earlier this month in which he said his department would not enforce some components of the state’s ban on assault weapons.

According to a joint statement, the decision was reached after conversations involving Mendrick, DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.

“Enforcement of this law does not demand that deputies go door-to-door seeking to remove weapons from those licensed to own them,” the joint statement read, in part. “With this understanding, Sheriff Mendrick is committed to enforcing all state and local laws.”

The assault weapons ban, which was passed earlier this month, would prohibit Illinois residents from purchasing firearms designated as “assault weapons,” and would also make manufacture of such weapons illegal. Extended magazines were also banned under the law, which would go into effect next year.

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A provision of the bill would require residents who own specific types of firearms to register them with the Illinois State Police, a move that many state law enforcement officials have come out in opposition to, including Mendrick.

“As the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for DuPage County, 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 because of noncompliance with this act,” Mendrick said in a Facebook post earlier this month.

His stance put him at odds with members of the DuPage County Board, with the judicial and public safety committee meeting to discuss the status of the bill.

An Effingham County judge granted a temporary restraining order for the Protect Illinois Communities Act, the state’s assault weapons ban, NBC 5’s Alex Maragos reports.

“If he can’t enforce the laws of the state, then he needs to really consider stepping aside,” board member Liz Chaplin told the Daily Herald. “We need somebody in that office that’s responsible and that will uphold the laws of the state.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose administration is fighting to defend the bill in court, says that he believes it will withstand judicial scrutiny, and accused law enforcement officials of “political grandstanding” when they say they won’t enforce portions of the ban.

“This legislation was the result of hundreds of hours of collaboration and cooperation between legal experts, legislators and advocates, and it makes Illinois a safer place for every resident,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill say that it violates the Second Amendment’s protections of gun ownership, as well as the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination.

Some lawsuits have also alleged that the bill violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The status of those suits remains unclear, with the National Rifle Association, the Illinois State Rifle Association and more groups taking part in suits aiming to prevent the bill from going into effect in Jan. 2024.

Temporary restraining orders have been issued in some cases, but the Attorney General’s Office says it will appeal those rulings.

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