Will County sheriff says Illinois semiautomatic weapons ban ‘may infringe on the constitutional rights’

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley attends the Morgue and Coroner’s Facility Groundbreaking Ceremony on Friday.

The Will County sheriff said he does not believe an Illinois law banning high-powered semiautomatic weapons will increase safety and may infringe on constitutional rights of citizens.

In a letter on Friday, Sheriff Mike Kelley said while he supports gun legislation created to increase the safety in communities, he does not believe House Bill 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, will accomplish this goal.

Kelley said he believes the law “may infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, and that this bill disarms those law-abiding citizens that I have been sworn to protect.”

“The constitutionality of HB 5471 will most certainly be challenged in court, and I look forward to the court ruling in order to help clarify the many unanswered questions that we all have,” Kelley said.

It was not clear from the letter if Kelley plans to not enforce the Protect Illinois Communities Act. When asked whether he plans to enforce the law, Kelley’s spokeswoman Kathy Hoffmeyer said he does not want to make any further comment.

“He just wants to stand with his letter and the contents of it,” Hoffmeyer said.

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a ban on several dozen styles of rapid-fire rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns and weapon attachments that enhance a gun’s firepower.

The law makes Illinois the ninth state, along with Washington, D.C., to prohibit the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons, according to a report from the Associated Press.

In his letter, Kelley said his office has been inundated with various questions from the public regarding the recent passing of the Protect Illinois Communities Act into law.

Kelley, a third-term sheriff in Will County, said when he was elected and sworn into office, he took an oath to protect the rights afforded by all citizens under the U.S. Constitution.

“One of those rights is ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’ provided under the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms for the defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people,” Kelley said.

Kelley said his office is working with “various law enforcement partners and organizations” to determine and address the full ramifications of the legislation and address it appropriately.