Letter: Who will obey laws if law enforcement won’t? A response to DeKalb County Sheriff Sullivan

Black keyboard - Letter to the Editor

I am writing to respond to DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan’s statement in Thursday’s Chronicle, “As the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement officer … [I] proclaim that neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons … nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding gun individuals ... solely for non-compliance of this Act.” (“Sheriffs across northern Illinois say they won’t enforce gun registration,” Daily Chronicle, Jan. 12, 2023).

I would ask Sheriff Sullivan if there are any other laws he would choose not to enforce? Does he get to choose what laws he will enforce? Do we?

The article claims that the sheriff is among several Illinois sheriffs who have publicly announced in essence that they will not do their duty to execute the law (emphasis mine). The article goes on to state that the sheriffs “apparently shared [the] belief that the gun law was a violation of the 2nd Amendment and the U.S. Constitution.”

Are the sheriffs now members of the judiciary? Is interpretation of the law now in their purview? Law enforcement, as I was taught in my civics classes, is part of the executive branch of government, not the judiciary.

The larger question is: Who will obey laws, legally enacted by the legislature, if law enforcement won’t? I guess I can argue that I don’t like stopping at red lights, and I have a right not to stop at them if I am not endangering anybody, and I am a good driver and solid citizen, and, moreover, the red light law is a violation of my individual freedom and, therefore, a violation of the Constitution.

All sham analogies to the side, if we cannot count on our police officers and our sheriffs to protect us by enforcing the law, where are we then to go? Are these sheriffs not deliberately failing in their duty?

I applaud Lake County Sheriff John Idleberg, also cited in the article, for speaking to the reality of assault rifles that “they are nothing more than killing machines, and they have no place in a civilized society.”

Guns – and yes, the Second Amendment – are increasingly making this a fearful and uncivilized society.

Marilyn Cleland