Jan 19, 2023 - News

Illinois seeing resistance to assault weapons ban

Photo of a bunch of rifles on display in a store.

Assault-style rifles, now banned for sale in the state, are displayed at Freddie Bear Sports in Tinley Park. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

While several county sheriffs are rejecting the state's new assault weapons ban as unconstitutional, large police organizations are staying mum.

Why it matters: The law's success depends primarily on the sheriffs, chiefs of police, and officers tasked with enforcing it — but there's little agreement among them.

What they're saying: "They took an oath of office to uphold the law," Gov. JB Pritzker said last week during a press conference. "As law enforcement, that’s their job, and I expect them to do that job.

"The other side: The Illinois Sheriffs Association (ISA), which "remains opposed" to the law, is using it to fundraise and increase membership.

  • "Now more than ever, with the infringement on your 2nd Amendment rights by the new Illinois Assault Weapon Ban, we need your support to continue governmental relations, and to bolster our steadfast approach with legislative advocacy," the ISA wrote on its site.

Context: An ISA representative tells Axios that "the majority" of Illinois sheriffs — about 80 — have publicly opposed the law.

Between the lines: Large law enforcement groups hear diverse opinions on these issues, IACP executive director Kenny Winslow tells Axios, "and that's why we typically take no position."Kenny Winslow tells Axios, "and that's why we typically take no position."

  • "There are definitely members of our organization that support some type of firearms restrictions, but there's others who don't … in the end our membership wants the legislators to do their job and we'll do our job."

Zoom out: The ban is facing not just law enforcement pushback, but also three lawsuits in county and federal courts.

  • The Illinois State Rifle Association, along with other gun rights groups, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Illinois attorney general and the chief of Illinois State Police.
  • And a downstate judge is expected to rule Friday on a temporary restraining order on the law requested by attorney Tom DeVore.

The bottom line: Welcome to yet another category of uncertainty — the enforcement of laws — stemming from our state's growing ideological divide.


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