United States

DuPage County residents debate whether sheriff should enforce Illinois’ gun ban

(The Center Square) – Board officials from Illinois’ second most populated county heard from residents on both sides of the debate about whether the sheriff there should enforce the state’s gun ban.

Nearly 300 people attended the DuPage County Board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the measure prohibiting individuals from purchasing more than 170 types of semi-automatic weapons and magazines, and register any already-owned guns with the state. The measure was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this month. A series of state and federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the law.

Last week, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick joined dozens of other county sheriffs from across the state by announcing on Facebook that neither he nor his officers would be enforcing the gun ban and registry.

“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 individuals that have been arrested solely with noncompliance of this Act,” Mendrick said.

DuPage County Board Chair Deb Conroy started Tuesday’s public comment period and said it was not the county sheriff’s job to decide what laws are enforced.

“As the chair of the DuPage County Board, I believe our jobs as elected officials is to uphold the laws of the state of Illinois, all of the laws,” Conroy said. “We do not individually decide which laws we will uphold.”

The board room was packed with members of the public. Activists for both sides filled an overflow room and spoke their minds.

Peter Christos of DuPage County supported Mendrick’s position to not enforce the gun ban and claimed the sheriff was doing what he was elected to do.

“The sheriffs are not elected to uphold the governor, and whatever he says, he is elected to uphold the constitution, and that’s exactly what Sheriff Mendrick is doing,” Christos said. “He is upholding the Second Amendment, and a lot of people do not understand that.”

Jax West, of DuPage County, started her statement by giving statistics on the number of victims of gun violence and urged the sheriff to follow the law and enforce the measure.

“If our new gun laws can save just one child, then it is worth it,” West said. “Do your job Sherriff Mendrick. You are to enforce laws, not make them.”

Jamie Clark of Aurora spoke in support of Mendrick’s position to not enforce the ban and said lawmakers do not care about public opinion or their residents’ thoughts related to this matter.

“It is quite clear that our legislators no longer vote how the people want them to based on the over 10,000 opposing witness slips for this gun bill on the third amending of it,” Clark said. “Our elected officials now work for their own agendas, and this is intolerable.”

Mendrick was not in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting.

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