Knox County sheriff says office will not cooperate with new Illinois weapons law

GALESBURG — Knox County Sheriff Jack Harlan announced in a Wednesday news release that his office will not enforce a state law passed Tuesday that will require people to register their ownership of semi-automatic rifles.

The law, known as House Bill 5471 or the Protect Illinois Communities Act, bans the manufacture, sale and purchase of assault-style, semi-automatic weapons in Illinois. Under the bill, people must register their weapons with Illinois State Police by Jan. 1, 2024, in order to keep them.

A news release from Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office states that the new law also caps the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, bans “switches” that convert handguns into assault weapons and “extends the ability of courts to prevent dangerous individuals from possessing a gun through firearm restraining orders.”

It was signed into immediate effect by Pritzker on Tuesday after a 68-41 vote in the Illinois House of Representatives and amendments approved by the Illinois Senate 34-20 on Monday.

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Harlan’s news release states that “neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”

“Part of my duties that I accepted upon being sworn into office was to protect the rights provided to all of us, in the Constitution,” Harlan wrote. “One of those enumerated rights is the right of the people to keep and bear arms provided under the 2nd amendment.”

“I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S.”

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Harlan, 46, won the race for Knox County Sheriff in November, defeating Democratic candidate James Robertson by 2,938 votes. Harlan ran as a Republican unopposed from his party in the election’s primary.

Harlan was previously a K-9 handler with the Knox County Sheriff's Department and served in the United States Army for over 20 years. In taking office, Harlan replaced David L. Clague, a Democrat who did not run for re-election after being Knox County Sheriff since 2007.

This article originally appeared on Galesburg Register-Mail: Knox County sheriff will not cooperate with new Illinois weapons law