Op Ed: Fed Up Illinoisans are Saying “Enough is Enough”

By State Senator Don DeWitte
Published in the Chicago Sun Times on February 1, 2023

There has been a great deal of discussion from both sides of the gun issue as to whether the Illinois sheriffs who recently announced they will not enforce the new assault weapons ban are justified in their actions. Perhaps the more important question is, why did they feel the need to take such a drastic step?

There is no denying that there has been a gradual but very real change in the type of legislation we’re seeing in Springfield. Rather than looking at issues of concern and finding workable and fair solutions that target specific problems, extremism has become the norm. Rather than using a scalpel to create narrowly scoped public policy, majority party lawmakers are using a chainsaw. Unfortunately, it’s the men and women of law enforcement and law-abiding citizens who find themselves in the path of destruction.

Law enforcement officers have felt the brunt of these new extreme laws. Whether they are the seeing a diminishment in their ability to do their jobs effectively and safely when approaching and apprehending suspected criminals, or knowing the Democrat majority in Springfield sees nothing wrong with providing an avenue for anonymous complaints and civil suits against them, law enforcement personnel recognize they are presumed by a growing number of majority party lawmakers as the bad guys. Is it any wonder that Illinois is facing an all-time-high vacancy rate at police and sheriffs’ departments across the state? Who would want to do a thankless job that involves putting one’s life on the line with one hand tied behind their back?

These officers are also charged with enforcing laws that many believe infringe on the Second Amendment rights of lawful citizens. They are the ones on the front lines of making sure Illinoisans with no record of criminal misconduct jump through an increasing number of politically-motivated hoops if they want to exercise their Second Amendment rights. They are the ones who are responsible for seizing guns from individuals who have done nothing other than go through the FOID Card and background check process and legally purchase a firearm.

The extremism in Springfield has reached a point where law enforcement personnel and law-abiding citizens are standing up and saying, “Enough is enough. No more.”

It used to be that a bill’s constitutionality was discussed and determined during the committee process. Not anymore. Today, with increased regularity, we are seeing extreme laws passed in partisan votes with a “let the courts figure it out” attitude. In fact, at the conclusion of the Senate floor debate on the recent assault weapons ban legislation, the bill sponsor ended his speech with, “We’ll see you in court.”

Every sheriff I have met during my years as a public servant has been a hard-working and honorable leader whose main concern is the safety of the people in their county. They’re not rogue opportunists or lawbreakers. So for the majority of this state’s sheriffs to stand up and say there are serious issues with the new assault weapons law, legislators need to examine the steps that led to this kind of unified revolt. At the same time, I would encourage every member of the General Assembly, including Governor Pritzker, to remember the oath we all took just a few short weeks ago, where we promised “to support the constitution of the United States and support the constitution of the State of Illinois.”

Everyday Illinoisans are just trying to live their lives according to their value systems and within the confines of Illinois law. Similarly, law enforcement officials are trying do their dangerous jobs the best they can in a hostile environment. But because of the new extremism in our legislative process, both groups have reached the point where they will no longer stand idly by while the majority party turns our criminal justice system into a model that penalizes lawful gun owners, diminishes law enforcement’s effectiveness, and eases penalties for those who commit violent crimes.

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