© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

McLean County sheriff won't go 'door to door' to check for assault weapon registrations

McLean County Sheriff's Office police car
WGLT file photo
A McLean County Sheriff's Office squad car is parked in front of the sheriff's offices.

McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane says the bill Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law this week banning the sale, delivery and manufacture of assault weapons is unconstitutional, so he says police aren't bound to follow it.

“The U.S. Constitution is trumping his law. That’s the way I see it,” Lane said.

Lane said his biggest concern is the requirement that people who currently own such weapons register them with the Illinois State Police by Jan. 1, 2024.

“I don’t see sending deputies door to door to check and make sure people have registered their weapons. That is not something I will have my people doing,” Lane said.

Pritzker accuses the sheriffs who won't enforce the law of political grandstanding.

“They took an oath of office to uphold the law as law enforcement, that's their job and I expect them to do that job,” Pritzker said during a media availability on Thursday.

A search of media and law enforcement social media by WGLT and Illinois Public Radio show more than 75 county sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the law. That list includes DeWitt, Logan, Piatt and Woodford counties in central Illinois.

Tazewell County Sheriff Jeffrey Lower said in a social media post: “I understand the destructive influences currently existing with out state and our country will only relent when we all vigorously defend and preserve the Constitution and the freedom it provides.” But he did not explicitly say whether he plans to enforce the ban.

Lane did not go as far as most of the other law enforcement officials. Many of them used the exact language of the Illinois Sheriffs Association in saying they would refuse to arrest or house people arrested “solely for non-compliance of this act.”

“Part of what that said was I wouldn’t house inmates charged with these crimes. I don’t know that that is my decision,” said Lane, adding he would leave that discretion to other law enforcement agencies who send detainees to the county jail.

Lane said he has not consulted with McLean County State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds regarding the law. Reynolds joined dozens of other prosecutors and other law enforcement officials across the state is suing over the no-cash bail provision of the SAFE-T Act. Jon Sandage, who was McLean County sheriff at the time, joined in the lawsuit. That measure is on hold pending a ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court expected this spring.

Reynolds said she was still reviewing the full scope of the assault weapons ban, but added law enforcement can handle enforcement as it chooses as the investigative agencies.

Lane said he doesn't plan to sue over the assault weapons to court, but he expects it will end up in court.

The Illinois State Rifle Association has said it plans to pursue a legal challenge.

A spokesperson for the governor's office said they expect the law will survive any legal challenges.

"We’re confident that this law will hold up to any future legal challenges, but again, it is the current law of our state. Anyone who advocates for law, order, and public safety and then refuses to follow the law is in violation of their oath of office," the spokesperson said.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
Related Content