The association has unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the assault weapon band that Governor Pat Quinn wants lawmakers to enact.
Cass County Sheriff Bob Fair says almost everyone in the association, including himself, feels that it’s not guns themselves that are the problem.
“You’re just punishing the law-abiding citizens. I believe that the offenders are going to get the weapons no matter what, and it isn’t going to matter,” says Fair. “They get a weapon to try to settle issues, and that’s not the gun’s fault. That’s the offender’s fault.”
The Sherriff’s Association lists a number of ways to tackle gun violence besides expansion of mental health illness treatment, including law enforcement access to mental health records.
Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack says the issue of how to address mental health is a concern.
“We believe there’s so much more we could be doing. It’s been an issue for sheriffs state-wide for quite a while,” says Duvendack.
“We’ve ended up with people with mental illnesses in jail because there just wasn’t the proper place for them to be to go to get help and treatment. We’ve had people that’ve been put in jail that we just don’t believe belong there. Here in Jacksonville, obviously, with the closing of the JDC, there are going to be some people put out that do need some services," he adds.
Calls for a closer look at the mental health system in America have been made by many in law enforcement and politics in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.
The state Sheriff’s Association list also includes addressing violent video games and vigorous prosecution of those who violate existing gun laws.
Duvendack says the association supports the state and federal constitutions and the right to keep and bear arms.