Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said he is embarrassed to be a Democrat because of concerns about the state’s new ban on certain firearms.
Hain publicly spoke out against the gun ban this week for the time since he issued a written statement last month. In that statement, Hain said he would not proactively seize weapons from legal gun owners in the absence of some other criminal activity.
The sheriff also has said he believed the ban was unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, Hain told the county board’s legislative committee that several lawsuits and opposition from law enforcement could have been avoided if police had a meaningful spot at the table while lawmakers crafted the legislation.
He said it’s a recurring problem that includes the push for COVID crackdowns and the quagmire of the SAFE-T Act, which still is being revised with trailer bills.
“Please remember, I’m an elected Democrat,” Hain said. “I’m pro-no cash bail. If they want to ban any sort of weapon, whatever, we’ll enforce it. But our legislators here in Kane County, especially with the (Democratic) Party next to their names, do not listen to law enforcement. They refuse to communicate with us. They create legislation based on what they read on social media and knee-jerk reactions in the news. I’m tired of having to clean up the pieces and try to figure this out afterward. I’m embarrassed to have a D next to my name.”
The state law, passed in January, bans the sale of more than 100 types of guns, most of which are semi-automatic rifles, and various attachments. It also creates ammunition caps for certain weapons. Those who already own guns listed in the legislation must register them with the Illinois State Police by 2024.
The ban took effect immediately, but enforcement is under scrutiny after a state appellate court endorsed a temporary restraining order earlier this month in a case filed by thousands of advocates and led by a downstate firearms dealer. Several other lawsuits have been filed, some reaching federal court. Meanwhile, several sheriffs in the suburbs and state have said they won’t seek to enforce at least the provision of the law requiring registration.
Hain asked the county board for help in encouraging Democratic state lawmakers to bring law enforcement in on the discussions, especially police who he says have been openly supportive of the progressive changes at the heart of much of the currently stalled legislation.
Hain also pushed back against Democrats on the county board, including Chair Corinne Pierog, who said they were under the impression law enforcement was at the table in the crafting of legislation, including the new weapons ban. Hain said some county state’s attorneys were involved, but “nobody who wears a uniform” was part of the process.
Hain said the result is a ban that, “If it does go into effect, it’s going to make our community less safe.”
“Mental health is the core issue of mass shootings. Every single one,” Hain continued. “You can ban every single piece of equipment out there with a trigger on it. Mental health is going to be the issue that creates mass killings. Let’s start doing the right thing, because it’s not being done right now.”
• The Shaw Local News Network and The Associated Press contributed to this report.