In dueling letters, Democratic lawmakers, Kane sheriff trade accusations on police input for gun ban
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain says he's embarrassed to be a Democrat?
Five Democratic state lawmakers representing Kane County said Friday they are embarrassed he is, too, after Hain criticized them over the state's new ban on certain kinds of firearms and ammunition.
In a letter "to the people of Kane County," state Sens. Cristina Castro and Karina Villa joined state Reps. Anna Moeller, Maura Hirschauer and Barbara Hernandez in saying Hain was wrong when he said no law enforcement officers were involved in crafting the law.
"If the Sheriff had cared to pay attention or check his facts he would have seen that several representatives from law enforcement spoke on the record in support of the bill at a hearing on December 20, 2022," the letter reads. "But, much to the detriment of the people of Kane County, Sheriff Hain doesn't care about facts, he prefers to spread misinformation and stoke the flames of controversy."
But Friday night, Hain responded to the lawmakers' letter with one of his own, repeating criticisms that they largely did not consult with him or other law enforcement leaders, or listen to those they did consult, before finishing the weapons ban legislation.
"Of the five legislators who signed the 'rebuttal,' I heard from one regarding the assault ban legislation, to which I replied with qualified and experienced feedback from several law enforcement officers with over one hundred years of police and law experience. None of which was taken into consideration," he wrote.
"Regarding the SAFE-T Act, I proactively expressed concerns over some portions of the bill to the same legislator, but no collaboration was offered and none of the concerns were included in the final iteration."
He did not specify the legislator.
The lawmakers had said in their letter that gun violence is a public health epidemic unique to the United States.
"While we know the remedies, public officials like Sheriff Ron Hain refuse to prescribe them," the letter reads. "We are fighting every day for those remedies, so on one point we agree with what the sheriff said in this Daily Herald headline: We are also embarrassed that Sheriff Hain has a 'D' by his name."
On Wednesday, Hain told the Kane County Board's legislative committee that "our legislators here in Kane County, especially with the (Democratic) Party next to their names, do not listen to law enforcement." He has said he believes the ban is unconstitutional.
"I'm tired of having to clean up the pieces and try to figure this out afterward," he said at the committee meeting. "I'm embarrassed to have a 'D' next to my name."
Passed in January, the state law 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. Existing owners of 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.
"I support considerations of firearms limitations for illicit usage as attempted in the Assault Weapon Ban legislation, and I am an advocate for a no-cash bail system and enhanced police professionalism standards as addressed in the SAFE-T Act," Hain wrote in his letter Friday night. "However, both of these attempts to address societal concerns are now mired in Supreme Court review. Mostly due to some majority of the legislators' failure to include the professionals who do this work every day and have been committed to this profession for decades."
Hain contended that police unions were invited to provide input on the legislation but "were largely ignored," while only county state's attorneys were "allowed" at the table when the legislation was finished.
"The inflammatory language of their rebuttal speaks to their continued ignorance of facts, laws, and the totality of the constitution," Hains wrote.
The five lawmakers said the legislation was "publicly discussed" at three subject matter hearings in December, and they defended the law.
"Legislators in Illinois heeded the calls of our constituents and joined eight other states in banning the sale and possession of assault style weapons," they wrote. "We took action and we stand by our commitment to common sense gun safety."
They concluded their letter by asking Hain to "step back from public disputes" and to work with them on public safety policies.
"Our doors are always open for collaboration," they wrote, "and he knows where to find us."
Hains responded directly to those remarks.
"To the point of their last paragraph, communication is exactly my goal and I would welcome collaboration from any of them as I have desperately pressed for that need during my two terms," he wrote. "Unfortunately, it has come to the point where I need to raise public awareness of these issues."