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By Carmen Ensinger
On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Governor Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act (HB 5471) banning the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches in Illinois, effective immediately.
The passage of the bill is seen as an attack on second amendment rights and local law enforcement officials, such as Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen, are making their stances known on the matter from the get-go.
Sheriff McMillen posted a letter to social media regarding his response to the passage of the bill and establishing a policy regarding the enforcement, investigations and arrests pertaining to the new law.
“As your duly elected Sheriff, my job and my office are sworn to protect the citizens of Greene County,” McMillen said. “This is a job and responsibility that I take with the utmost seriousness.”
He also believes in supporting the rights granted everyone as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
“Part of my duties I accepted upon being sworn into office was to protect the rights provided to all of us in the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions,” he said. “One of those enumerated rights found in the U.S. Constitution is the right of the people to keep and bear arms provided under the Second Amendment.”
He believes the right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people of this country.
“Myself, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is in clear violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” McMillen said. “I would assume that someone soon will be filing a suit against the State of Illinois alleging that this law violates the Second Amendment, similar to the passage of the Safe-T-Act and it will be sent to the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of the new law.”
Until that happens, and the constitutionality issue is decided, McMillen said he is going to follow his “morals, beliefs and obligations concerning protecting the rights of Greene County’s Citizens.”
“Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and as your chief law enforcement official of Greene County, neither myself, my deputies, nor my office will be conducting or participating in any investigations or arrests or assisting any outside agency or agencies in any investigations or arrests, concerning lawful gun owners failing to register their weapons with the State or any other of the unconstitutional provisions contained in HB 5471,” McMillen said. “Furthermore, the Greene County Jail will not house any law abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of the regulations found in HB 5471.”
McMillen admits that the passage of the law puts law enforcement on a slippery slope.
“These types of laws put law enforcement officers and prosecutors in a very precarious box, with us having to decide to not enforce laws that were passed by government bodies,” he said. “But, as your Greene County Sheriff, I cannot sit back and let laws that strip Greene County citizens of their constitutional rights and not take a stance supporting the citizens against a government that wants to trample on their rights.”
At least he is not alone in his stance.
“I believe that this stance will be the stance of many other Sheriff’s throughout the State of Illinois, so we are unified in this movement to protect the rights of our respective citizens,” he said. “I am appreciative of the fact that Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer and Sen. Steve McClure voted against HB 5471 and recognizes this is a clear violation of the Constitution and an overreach of the State government.”