Some Illinois law enforcement say enforcing gun ban violations not a priority

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(The Center Square) – Illinois’ gun ban registry deadline is a month away and some in local law enforcement say investigating and prosecuting infractions will not be a top priority.

The gun and magazine ban was enacted Jan. 10, prohibiting the future sales of more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities. A registry of the now banned firearms, attachments and .50 caliber ammunition opened Oct. 1 with a Jan. 1 deadline to register such items with Illinois State Police.

Being out of compliance after Jan. 1 could lead to Class A misdemeanor charges for the first offense and Class 3 felony charges for the second and subsequent offense.

As of Wednesday, just 0.18% of Illinois’ 2.4 million Firearm Owner’s ID card holders have registered a banned item with Illinois State Police. While the gun ban and registry is tied up in courts, the Jan. 1 deadline to register still looms.

“Law enforcement agencies, including the ISP, are charged with enforcing the Protecting Illinois Communities Act throughout the state,” ISP said on their frequently asked questions page.

The agency said they will continue partnering with local law enforcement through their Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force.

“The task force is a collaborative effort to reduce and prevent illegal possession and use of firearms, firearm related homicides, and other violent crimes,” the ISP said. “All law enforcement officers will have access to the resources the ISP has made available to the public to ensure they are able to identify items regulated by the Protecting Illinois Communities Act.”

During recent public hearings, the agency said prosecution of first and subsequent offenses will be up to the 102 different county state’s attorneys.

“That’s going to be up to the state’s attorney and the courts,” ISP attorney Suzanne Bond said.

In McHenry County, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has a pending lawsuit challenging the law on the grounds the measure is unconstitutional. With that case still pending, Kenneally said they’ll follow the law.

“We recognize that it is the law and we respect it. We also have limited resources and have to set priorities for the office, and this will not be one of our top priorities,” Kenneally told The Center Square, noting that each case will have unique circumstances.

Without criminal referrals from law enforcement, Kenneally said they can’t prosecute.

“So I employ lawyers, I don’t employ investigators,” Kenneally said. “Our prosecutions are entirely dependent first on a full police investigation which establishes the crime by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said his deputies won’t be going door-to-door.

“We are not going to go out and actively go to people we think might have a gun because if we were to go to somebody’s house, we would technically need to have a warrant,” Downey told The Center Square.

He notes that people are possessive of their firearms.

“Any time that you’re going to take away something that somebody has a right to have, you’re going to deal with consequences that could turn bad,” Downey said. “The sheriff has no business going to a person’s house and attempting to register those guns for whatever reason.”

Downey said his position on the law hasn’t changed.

“This isn’t something that we’re going door to door for regardless of if this thing passes and as of Jan. 1, that status really hasn’t changed,” Downey said.

There are 102 county state’s attorneys and sheriffs. Most have said they wouldn’t enforce the law.

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