Politics: DuPage County sheriff under fire for not backing assault weapons ban

Flanked by fellow congressmen, state lawmakers and county board members, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten on Monday repeated calls for DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick to retract a statement about the state’s new gun ban or resign.

Earlier this month, Mendrick issued a statement that said he believed the state’s new ban on high-powered guns and high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional.

“Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for DuPage 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 noncompliance of this Act,” Mendrick’s statement reads.

Casten and other lawmakers Monday called Mendrick’s statements irresponsible and reckless.

“His actions are going to make future mass shootings more likely,” Casten said during a news conference.

Mendrick on Monday rebuked Casten’s claim.

“There is absolutely nothing that we are doing or not doing that would make a mass shooting more accessible in DuPage County,” Mendrick said in a written statement. “In fact, I have asked on multiple occasions to increase penalties on all existing gun crimes, but it does not appear that they want to have that conversation.

“They seem more concerned with lawful gun owners than people illegally possessing guns,” he said.

Mendrick, who had previously suggested he believed compliance checks would be tied to the law, also took note that lawmakers on Monday said they would not be asking officers to go door to door to ensure weapons were legally registered.

“That is a big win for our law-abiding citizens and for law enforcement,” his statement read.

In clarifying that house-to-house inspections were not expected, state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, a Naperville Democrat, said the weapons ban would come into play if the person was involved with another crime. Using an example of a domestic violence call where guns are involved, Stava-Murray questioned if Mendrick would follow the new law.

“Is he going to enforce our automatic weapons ban if that’s an unregistered weapon?” Stava-Murray said. “He said no, he’s not going to. That seems very dangerous.”

In his statement Monday, Mendrick, a Republican, said it was “disheartening” to hear Stava-Murray suggest he would not enforce the law when he has said he would enforce the weapons ban when it involves other illegal activity.

“When elected officials are blatantly untruthful, maybe they are the ones who should consider resignation,” Mendrick said.

Criticism against Mendrick, however, has grown since Jan. 17, when Democratic members of the county board’s judicial and public safety committee rebuked Mendrick’s statement. Democratic state lawmakers quickly joined in the criticism, calling on Mendrick to retract his statement.

On Thursday, Casten and five other Democratic congressmen who represent DuPage County signed a letter asking Mendrick if there are any other laws he views as unconstitutional and if he has directed his staff not to enforce any other laws because of his beliefs.

“We seek clarity right now,” U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Schaumburg Democrat, said during Monday’s news conference. “We need to know exactly what we’re dealing with, and we all uniformly demand that he enforce the law as written.

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On Monday, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Schaumburg Democrat, called on DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick to retract a statement saying that Mendrick would not arrest or house people in the county jail charged solely with noncompliance of the state’s new weapons ban.

Alice Fabbre/Daily Herald

“I just want to say with one voice, we cannot wait another day, we cannot wait another hour, we can’t wait another minute for the sheriff to do his duty, because lives depend on it,” he said.

Read more at dailyherald.com.

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