More than 200 people came to the DuPage County Board meeting in Wheaton on Tuesday to make their voices heard following DuPage Sheriff James Mendrick’s statement earlier this month that he will not enforce the state’s new assault weapons ban.
After public comment, Deborah Conroy, DuPage County board chair, a Democrat, said she plans to introduce a resolution at the next board meeting on Feb. 14 to disapprove the sheriff’s statement. Conroy said words matter and the consequences of what we say can sometimes be “dangerous.”
“I feel the board should have confidence that our sheriff is focused on the safety of our residents and not engaging in inflammatory political rhetoric,” Conroy said.
Mendrick, a Republican, previously said he believes the new legislation is unconstitutional and said his office will not monitor whether lawful gun owners register their guns with the state, nor arrest or house anyone charged solely with failing to comply with the law. law.
Dozens of Illinois sheriffs have also stated that they will not enforce the new assault weapons ban.
Last week, several Democratic DuPage County board members and some residents called on him to withdraw his statement or resign. Long a Republican stronghold, the DuPage County Board now consists of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans.
Several state and federal Democratic lawmakers also called on Mendrick on Monday to retract his statement.
Following Conroy’s announcement at Tuesday’s meeting, James Zay, a Republican, DuPage County board member, said he would not support censorship and supports the sheriff.
“I support our sheriff and his right to speak out on the issues with the deed,” said Zay.
Republican County Board member Sam Tornatore echoed Zay’s concerns about a censure resolution, arguing that it should have open discussion.
“My only question is, is it going to make us better or bring us together…or will it just divide us further?” he said.
County Board member Liz Chaplin, a Democrat, said she supports censorship because she believes Mendrick spread misinformation and incited voters by posting his statements on the DuPage County sheriff’s official Facebook page.
“It shows that he lacks the integrity, judgment and professionalism necessary to perform those duties,” Chaplin said.
During the public commentary portion of Tuesday’s meeting, which lasted more than an hour, several members of the public showed support for Mendrick in particular and gun rights in general. Mendrick did not attend the meeting. He could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
“There were more people at today’s public response than I’ve ever seen in my four years on this board,” said DuPage County board member Dawn DeSart, a Democrat representing District 5.
Joe Cosentino, a West Chicago resident, believes the new assault weapons ban will encourage criminals and strip Second Amendment rights away from legal gun owners.
“Criminals will still get their hands on guns whether the law is on the books or not, and most criminals who use guns don’t have FOID to begin with,” Cosentino said, referring to the ID of the firearm’s owner. . “As the board is asking Sheriff Mendrick to do, I would ask those who are asking him to step down to do the same. You let personal politics stand in the way of the provincial government.”
Tom Martin, a 65-year-old DuPage County resident, said he is a sportsman and supports the right to bear arms. However, he said the government is designed with separate branches and the sheriff has no right to determine whether or not a law should be enforced.
“I’m calling on the board to do everything in their power to reprimand Sheriff Mendrick,” Martin said.
On Friday, an Effingham County judge temporarily blocked the assault weapons ban for more than 850 people and a handful of licensed gun dealers named in a lawsuit filed in the county. The judge has scheduled a hearing for February 1. The order applies only to the plaintiffs in the case.
That lawsuit was brought by attorney Thomas DeVore, a failed Republican candidate for attorney general last year, who has since filed a new lawsuit against the assault weapons ban, in the state of White County, that lists more than 1,000 plaintiffs, including former senator and GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey and some 70 gun dealers.