Dozens of county sheriffs in Illinois say they won’t enforce a new a state law banning assault-style weapons. File Photo courtesy of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department | License Photo
Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Days after Illinois passed a law banning assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines, dozens of county sheriffs say they won't enforce the measure, claiming it is unconstitutional.
Displeasure appears strongest around the Chicago area, where top law enforcement officials in McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, La Salle, Grundy, and Kankakee counties have publicly stated they will not enforce the new legislation, WLS-TV reported.
DuPage County and its 920,000 residents is the largest so far to defy the law.
Lawmakers passed the "Protect Illinois Communities Act," on Jan. 6, banning the sale, manufacture, delivery and purchase of assault weapons across the entire state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law Tuesday night, which also prohibits most individuals under age 21 from buying any type of firearm in the state.
"No Illinoisan should have to go through life fearing their loved one could be next in an ever-growing list of mass shooting victims," Pritzker tweeted, after signing the bill.
The legislation became effective immediately, although to what level individual counties enforce the rules remains to be seen.
Opponents argue the law violates the 2nd Amendment's right to bear arms.
"I, among many others, believe HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," LaSalle County Sheriff Adam Diss wrote in an open letter, posted on the Illinois Sheriffs' Association Facebook page.
"Therefore, as the Custodian of the Jail and Chief Law Enforcement Official for LaSalle 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," he wrote.
Several other sheriffs have posted similar letters on the page, which were crafted by the association. At least 74 different sheriff's departments say they will not enforce the new legislation.
Local law enforcement agencies do not have the power to determine constitutionality, supporters of the law counter.
"Their job is to enforce the law, it's not to interpret the Constitution. We leave that up to the courts," Ed Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union told WEEK-TV in Peoria. Ill.