Jefferson Co., Ill. sheriff speaks out against new assault weapons ban

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard is speaking out against Governor JB Pritzker, over an assault weapons ban in Illinois
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 5:48 PM CST
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HERRIN, Ill. (KFVS) - Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard is speaking out against the new assault weapons ban in Illinois.

He’s not the only law enforcement official who says the new law is unconstitutional.

“Myself and many other law enforcement leaders understand this act violates the second amendment of the federal constitution,” he said. “We will not be enforcing it in this county.”

Governor Pritzker had heard about the sheriffs’ thoughts about the ban.

“There isn’t any need for sheriffs to be enforcing anything over the next year, so I think it’s a lot grandstanding frankly, and know there are some of them that are opposed to the law,” Pritzker added.

House Bill 5471 limits the sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines and requires existing owners of semi-automatic rifles to register their ownership with law enforcement. The sweeping bill is the state’s answer to curbing gun violence.

The Independence Day parade shooting in Highland Park is one of the mass shootings that prompted lawmakers to take action.

The bill was passed this week during the lame duck session.

Gun rights advocates and some law enforcement argue that the measure was rushed through with little debate as to whether the law is constitutional. Meanwhile, the state’s Sheriff Association says community members have many unanswered questions about the new law.

“The intended purpose behind those statements for many of the sheriffs was just to make sure that members of their community was not going to be knocking on doors and if this was sole violation,” said Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association. “If you look at the statements that they made, they just wanted to clarify because citizens in all the counties were asking those questions of the sheriff, because they were just getting bombarded with questions. So it wasn’t a ‘grandstanding’ moment, it was an attempt to provide a clarification to member of their community that elected them to their office to make sure they knew what the sheriff’s intentions were.”

Some groups, including the Illinois State Rifle Association, plan to file lawsuits as soon as next week.

Illinois is the ninth state in the country to pass these type of stringent gun laws and the governor’s office believes it will pass constitutional muster.

Several Southern Illinois lawmakers are hosting a town hall over gun control on Tuesday, January 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center.