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Retract or resign: County board members assail DuPage sheriff over weapons ban remarks

DuPage County residents and several county board members are calling on Sheriff James Mendrick to either retract his statement about not enforcing the state’s ban on some firearms or step down.

Mendrick was not available for comment Tuesday morning and did not attend the DuPage County Board’s judicial and public safety committee meeting where his stance drew sharp criticism from residents and board members.

“Bottom line: Mendrick was elected to enforce the law and not interpret it,” Elmhurst resident Amy Lippert said in an email read at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “If he won’t uphold his oath and enforce the law, he should resign or be recalled. If he wants to interpret laws, he can try to become a judge.”

Mendrick issued a statement Friday saying he believes House Bill 5471, which the governor signed into law Wednesday, is unconstitutional. The law, in part, bans the sale, purchase and manufacture of certain high-powered weapons and high- capacity magazines. It also requires those who already own such weapons to register them with the Illinois State Police.

Gun rights advocates have vowed a court challenge to the new law.

In his statement Friday, Mendrick said his office will not arrest those who do not register their weapons, nor will it arrest or house anyone charged solely with violating the ban.

Members of the judicial and public safety committee expressed outrage Tuesday over those remarks, noting the county board voted in October to support state and federal legislation banning the sale of high-powered weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Committee members echoed residents calls for Mendrick to retract his statement, with some suggesting the board should censure the sheriff if he does not. It was unclear Tuesday morning, however, if the board has the authority to censure a sheriff.

County board member Liz Chaplin said if the sheriff does not retract his statement, he should resign.

“If he can’t enforce the laws of the state then he needs to really consider stepping aside,” said Chaplin, a Democrat from Downers Grove. “We need somebody in that office that’s responsible and that will uphold the laws of this state.”

State lawmakers representing DuPage County also issued a statement Tuesday rebuking Mendrick’s remarks.

“The sheriff has no authority to determine the constitutionality of a law — that is up to the courts,” reads the statement signed by 16 state legislators. “Nor can he pick and choose which laws to enforce; he must enforce them all.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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