Gun ban debate draws hundreds to DuPage County complex in Wheaton

Supporters of DuPage County Sheriff Mendrick gather Tuesday outside the DuPage County administration building in Wheaton. (Brian Hill | Staff Photographer)

More than 200 people have shown up at the DuPage County Board meeting Tuesday to express support or outrage over Sheriff James Mendrick’s refusal to enforce the state’s new ban on high-powered weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The majority of the residents watched the meeting from the auditorium in the county government building in Wheaton. Many say they came out to the meeting to support Mendrick.

Mendrick is one of more than 90 sheriffs who have issued statements questioning the constitutionality of the state’s new ban. In his statement, Mendrick said he would not arrest or house anyone in the jail solely for noncompliance with the ban. He has said he would continue to investigate and arrest those charged with other crimes involving guns.

His statement drew the ire of several Democratic county board members and residents who last week called for him to retract his statement or resign. A delegation of state and federal Democratic lawmakers Monday also called on Mendrick to retract his statement.

“I would ask those requesting the sheriff to tip down to do the same,” said Joe Cosentino, a West Chicago resident and firearms instructor.

Outside the DuPage County government building before the meeting, other residents said they were there to support their Second Amendment rights and the sheriff.

“I’m here to protect my rights as a citizen of DuPage County,” said Gina Parrilli, a Westmont resident. “And I feel like these politicians are making these radical moves, and I have no say in my constitutional rights. My safety is more important than their radical views.

Others continued calls for Mendrick to enforce the new ban fully and backed county officials who have called on him to do his job.

“If our new gun laws can save just one child, it’s worth it,” said Jax West, a Lisle resident who read the names of children killed by gun violence in 2023. “Do your job, Sheriff Mendrick. You are to enforce laws, not make them.”

Alicia Fabbre Daily Herald Media Group

Alicia Fabbre is a local journalist who contributes to the Daily Herald