Home Local Hundreds flood DuPage County Board meeting to speak out on sheriff’s statement against enforcing state’s ban on assault weapons

Hundreds flood DuPage County Board meeting to speak out on sheriff’s statement against enforcing state’s ban on assault weapons

by staff

More than 200 people came to the DuPage County Board meeting in Wheaton Tuesday to make their voices heard after DuPage Sheriff James Mendrick’s statement earlier this month that he will not enforce the state’s new assault weapons ban.

After public comment, DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy, a Democrat, said she plans to introduce a resolution at the next board meeting on Feb. 14 to censure the sheriff for his statement.

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Mendrick, a Republican, previously said he believes the new legislation is unconstitutional and said his office won’t be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the state nor arresting or housing anyone charged solely with not complying with the act.

Dozens of sheriffs around Illinois have also declared they will not enforce the new assault weapons ban.

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Last week, several Democratic DuPage County Board members and some residents called for him to retract 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 legislators on Monday also called on Mendrick to retract his statement.

During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, several members of the audience held signs of support for Mendrick in particular and gun rights in general. Mendrick was not in attendance at the meeting.

Supporters of DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick rally outside the DuPage County Administration Building in Wheaton Tuesday prior to the county board meeting.

“There were more people at today’s public comment 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 resident of West Chicago, believes the new assault weapons ban will embolden criminals and take away Second Amendment rights from lawful gun owners.

“Criminals are still going to get their hands on guns, whether the law’s on the books or not, and most criminals using guns don’t have a FOID to begin with,” Cosentino said. “Like the board is asking Sheriff Mendrick to do, I would ask those requesting him to step down to do the same. You are letting personal politics get in the way of running the county.”

Tom Martin, a 65-year resident of DuPage County, said he is a sportsman and supports the right to bear arms, however, he said the government was designed with separate branches and the sheriff does not have the right to determine whether or not to execute a law.

“I call on the board to do whatever is in their power to reprimand Sheriff Mendrick,” Martin said.

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mejones@chicagotribune.com

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