Letter: How far will it go?
Over 70 of the 102 elected sheriffs in Illinois have stated publicly that they will not enforce the provisions of Public Act 102-1116 (Protect Illinois Communities Act) that require current owners of specific models and categories of semi-automatic weapons to register those weapons and obtain an endorsement on their Firearm Owners Identification card by Jan. 1, 2024.
As expected, these sheriffs have been both praised and excoriated for their public objections. Some have stated that, although they will enforce the law, they do not intend to ask their deputies to go door-to-door looking for unregistered firearms in their counties.
So, how are these deputy sheriffs expected to enforce the registration requirements of the law? Without probable cause, they can't force a gun owner with a valid FOID card to open their gun case to inspect the contents. They won't find them in the field since semi-automatic, center-fire rifles are illegal for hunting in Illinois.
So, will these professionals be relegated to hanging around gun ranges undercover to cite shooters for the class A misdemeanor prescribed by the act? However, since the governor controls the state police, it's possible that he could deploy them for this task.
Firearm registration raises another issue that would put law enforcement between law makers and gun owners: confiscation. This used to be considered NRA and conspiracy theorists' fearmongering. However, as recently as 2020, at least one presidential candidate (Beto O'Rourke) included confiscation in his platform. In Connecticut, where 81,849 firearms the state considers "assault rifles" have been registered since 2013, Gov. Ned Lamont expressed his support for using that registration database to confiscate those weapons.
How would Illinois use a similar gun registration database? Politicians state that they only want to track the guns. But, they don't say why. We're left to speculate.