You cannot make this up, and even if you could, the actual facts would read like something out of a really strange movie script about good versus just plain dumb.
When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month rushed to sign a brand new gun control bill before the Legislature adjourned (only to re-convene about 24 hours later), something happened nobody saw coming. County sheriffs up and down the Prairie State loudly declared they would not enforce the new law, which banned so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines.” It requires current owners to register their guns with the Illinois State Police.
How this may play out is ripe for speculation. By the time you read this, at least one federal lawsuit involving the Illinois State Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition will have been filed. There could be more. It all means that the new Illinois law might be headed for a collision with the Constitution’s Second Amendment.
This certainly appears to be what the sheriffs of at least 80 Illinois counties were thinking when they posted letters saying essentially the same thing.
“As your duly elected Sheriff,” the letter says, “my job and my office are sworn to protect the citizens … This is a job and responsibility that I take with the utmost seriousness. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people of this country …”
“Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official, I proclaim 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 gun individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
Published reports, and reliable sources, confirm Pritzker was furious when the sheriffs went public with their opposition. When he intimated the lawmen would lose their jobs, at least two different Illinois sources told me between laughs that the governor does not have the authority to fire elected sheriffs.
Meanwhile, Out West
When sheriffs in Washington State got wind of the gun control package put forth by Gov. Jay Inslee, which also involves a ban on semi-auto rifles, the Washington State Sheriff’s Association circulated a letter signed by Kittitas County Sheriff Clay Myer —president of the group — and it was not congenial.
“Governor Inslee,” Sheriff Myers wrote, “has announced plans for significant new restrictions on the ownership of firearms by law-abiding Washingtonians. We, members of the Washington Sheriffs’ Association, believe the proposed restrictions will serve to erode constitutionally protected rights without addressing the root causes of violent crime. We are particularly concerned with the proposed so-called ‘assault weapons ban’ and ‘permit to purchase’ laws.”
A few paragraphs later, Myers put it bluntly: “The rise in violent crime that so concerns citizens has happened even as regulations and restrictions on firearm ownership have grown. Of course, this is because the people who commit violent crimes simply don’t concern themselves with obeying rules about guns.”
Murder and mayhem is up in Washington, and so is the number of concealed pistol licenses. As the year wrapped up, there were just short of 697,000 active CPLs in circulation, according to data from the state department of licensing.
It’s not the first time county sheriffs have “just said no.” Back in 2018 and early 2019, many Washington sheriffs announced they would not actively enforce provisions of Initiative 1639, an extremist gun control measure passed by voters.
Some sheriffs in New York State say they will not “aggressively” enforce that state’s new gun law, which is being challenged by at least two federal lawsuits. A few sheriffs in Oregon have said essentially the same thing about provisions of Measure 114, the gun control initiative passed there last November.
A Good Man Gone
The problem with being an old gun guy is that it becomes more frequent we must say “goodbye” to a good friend, who happens to have also been just a plain good person.
Robert E. “Bob” Hodgdon, whose family name is part of the fabric of American metallic cartridge reloading, passed away Jan. 13. Having been born in August 1938, Hodgdon had a good run that covered a lot of ground. He and his brother, J.B. helped build the company founded by their father, Bruce Hodgdon, and today that name is iconic in the industry for the variety of reloading propellants for rifles, shotguns and handguns. According to an obituary the family posted, he “also assisted with the design and lead the team constructing the Pyrodex Plant in Herington, Kan. in 1979 and helped to design and build The Bullet Hole, a 44-station indoor shooting range in 1967.”
I served with Hodgdon on the NRA board of directors more than 20 years ago, and you could not find a more devoted fellow where perpetuation of the shooting sports, and protection of the Second Amendment, was concerned. He was a kind and gentle soul, a person you’d be delighted to share a campfire with, and someone who was as devoted to his family as his professional pursuits. He was father to four children, Chris (Adele) Hodgdon, Heidi (Erwin) Rodriguez, Stacie (Bryant Larimore) Hodgdon and Alisa Hodgdon — and grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather to eight.
A native of Kansas, he grew up in suburban Kansas City. He attended Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Kansas. He served in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Reserves.
He served as president of Hodgdon for more than 20 years and then as board chairman from 2014 to 2017.
Hodgdon volunteered in several civic organizations, and was a member of the Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kan.
Additionally, he was a founding member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a member of the Kansas State Rifle Association, and founding member of the Kansas Sportsmen’s Alliance.
Men like Bob Hodgdon are very rare.