Democrats single out DuPage County Sheriff over gun, mag ban defiance

Democrats single out DuPage County Sheriff over gun, mag ban defiance
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

There are more than 80 sheriffs in Illinois who’ve issued public statements to the effect that they will not be making any arrests solely for violating the state’s new ban on “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines, but DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick has become the face of the movement; at least for the anti-gun Democrats who are trying to shame the sheriff into backing off of his pledge.

DuPage County’s government is controlled by Democrats in a part of the state that’s been trending blue in Congress as well. Mendrick is an outlier as a Republican elected to county-wide office, and that seems to be the main reason why he’s being singled out; first by Democrats on the county board, then by state legislators, and now by several Democrats in Congress.

Mendrick, along with dozens of other county sheriffs in Illinois, have said they will not be checking if lawful gun owners register their weapons.

U.S. Reps. Sean Casten, Delia Ramirez, Bill Foster, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mike Quigley, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia have sent Mendrick a letter chastising him for saying he won’t enforce the ban.

“As Sheriff, you do not have the authority to set enforcement priorities based on your personal views of a law’s constitutionality. Moreover, by choosing not to enforce the law, you will put the safety of DuPage residents and law enforcement officers at risk,” they wrote.

The Congress members said Mendrick should retract his statement and commit to enforcing the laws of the state in a fair and impartial manner.

Casten, Ramirez, and Foster will join four state lawmakers and four DuPage County Board members on Monday to call on Mendrick to enforce the assault weapons ban.

DuPage County Board Chair Deb Conroy also has criticized Mendrick’s position, saying the sheriff “should not be playing politics with state laws.”

Speaking on the “Black and Right” show on Chicago radio station AM 560 “The Answer”, over the weekend, the sheriff said that while he doesn’t believe the law is constitutional, he also doesn’t have the staffing to try to strictly enforce the law even if he were inclined to do so. Noting that he has about thirty vacancies within the department, and an additional 30-or-so employees set to retire this year, Mendrick said bluntly, “we’re in trouble.”

“We’re doing laterals, we’re hiring from Chicago, we’re doing everything we can just to have people on the streets,” Mendrick added, pointing out that the average number of deputies on patrol at any given time has dropped from 18 a few years ago to 11 today. Still, even if the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office was fully staffed, the sheriff says the people of DuPage County have made it clear he’s doing what they want.

“They act like I’m the star of the show,” Mendrick said with a smile, referring to the Democrats who’ve made him the poster boy of opposition to the gun and magazine ban.

“I’m like the 90th sheriff to sign one of these letters and put it out, because I thought it was right… I was thinking about it all week. I had so many concerned citizens call me, and you know, my whole career I’m the guy who calls you back, so every call is taking 30 to 40 minutes. So then I had some of my staff calling people back, we’re like phone networking trying to answer all these calls over the first couple of days… so I bent to the will of the citizens. What they say goes,” Mendrick told host John Anthony.

Mendrick also pointed out that his office isn’t arresting illegal aliens or making arrests for simple marijuana possession because the “citizens don’t want that” either, but Democrats have been strangely silent about objecting to his use of discretion when it comes to policies they favor.

You can check out Mendrick’s entire thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation with the Black and Right radio show in the embed below, and I hope that the sheriff will be able to carve out a few minutes to talk with Cam & Co later this week as well. It’s good to see him staying the course, and I’m glad he’s listening to his local supporters instead of the yammering from the gun prohibition crowd.