Lake County sheriff responds to racist comments in wake of his stance on weapons ban

A Facebook post by Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg Thursday night expressing his support for the state's ban on high-powered weapons prompted more than 2,000 comments, both from detractors and supporters, within 24 hours.

Reacting to the overwhelming response Friday, Idleburg said he knew his stance would not be popular with everyone, especially those who own such rifles, but felt he needed to speak about it.

"I represent a county of over 700,000 people, not just those with rifles," Idleburg said. "I am not advocating law-enforcement take away a person's right to bear arms, but I do agree we need to restrict weapons of war in our community. The Lake County community feels the same way."

Idleburg, a Zion Democrat, won a second 4-year term as the county's top law enforcement official in November when he defeated Republican challenger Mark A. Vice II of Round Lake.

Several critics of Idleburg's stance brought up his race. One commenter questioned how Idleburg ever became a police officer, to which another user replied, "color."

"I would really hope in the year 2023, people would not use race or other protected status to disrespect others, but unfortunately, I have seen some of the comments where people have been very insulting over my race," Idleburg said. "I won't let the racist comments disparage the unbelievably hardworking and dedicated staff we have at the sheriff's office."

In addition to the flood of responses to Idleburg's Facebook post, his office has fielded emails and telephone calls from the community on the topic, as well.

"My staff and I have been communicating with the community on this matter long before I made my statement, and we will continue to do so for as long as the community wishes to discuss the matter," Idleburg said.

He said his office will assess whether it would be valuable to have a town-hall meeting with county residents to discuss the ban on high-powered weapons moving forward.

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