La Salle County state’s attorney: I won’t enforce the new gun law, either

County Board adopts resolution opposing new gun law

The La Salle County Board denounced the Protect Illinois Communities Act – the hotly disputed ban on some firearms – and La Salle County’s state’s attorney said he won’t enforce it.

On Thursday, the board voted unanimously (though Oglesby Democrat David Torres voted “present”) to adopt a resolution expressing opposition to the recently enacted law. Torres said later a court should rule on constitutionality and that all had been presented so far were legal opinions.

Addressing the board, La Salle County State’s Attorney Joe Navarro said he thinks the law is unconstitutional and that he will act accordingly.

“My office will exercise prosecutorial discretion in these types of cases as we do in all cases,” Navarro said, reading from a prepared statement. “Offenses committed with firearms will still be investigated and prosecuted by my office, but violations of the Protect Illinois Communities Act will not.”

Navarro wasn’t the only one heard. About a half dozen county residents rose during the public comment period to support the board’s resolution and to denounce the law on various grounds, alleging overreach, hasty passage and unconstitutionality.

La Salle County Clerk Jennifer Ebner, reading emotionally from a prepared statement, said she is an active member of Second Amendment associations and said the problem isn’t responsible gun owners and the answer isn’t constitutional infringement.

“I want to be able to hunt and I want to be able to defend if I need to,” Ebner said.

Larry Smith, chairman of the La Salle County Republican Central Committee, also rose and urged each board member to support the resolution and oppose the new law.

“The gun bill is patently unconstitutional,” Smith said. “It doesn’t take an attorney or legislator to recognize that. It’s time to stop this continual erosion of our constitutional rights.”

None spoke in support of the new law and most of those in the chamber applauded each public comment.

Navarro’s comments come a day after several sheriffs across northern Illinois, including sheriffs in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, announced they won’t enforce the new law, arguing in nearly identical prepared statements they believe the law is unconstitutional.

Illinois lawmakers passed the law banning the purchase, sale and manufacture of high powered semi-automatic weapons, .50 caliber rifles and ammunition and large-capacity magazines.

Current owners of such weapons won’t be required to surrender them. However, gun owners will have to register them with the Illinois State Police – including serial numbers, a provision initially removed by the Senate but restored after House proponents’ objections.

Under the new law, dozens of weapons are now banned across the state.