SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — With dozens of sheriffs speaking out against the controversial assault weapons ban, Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said he won’t weigh in on the constitutionality of a law.
“We will always follow the law until if and when a law is found unconstitutional,” Heuerman said. “It isn’t our job to interpret a law as unconstitutional – that is the court’s job.”
Sheriffs in counties in more than half the state have spoken out against the law, including Macon County and Sangamon County. Most counties announced their disapproval with a near-identical letter claiming they believe the law violates the Second Amendment.
“As a parent and law enforcement officer, I am greatly concerned about the culture of violence in our society,” Coles County Sheriff Kent Martin said. “But placing additional requirements on law-abiding citizens will not deter criminals or reduce gun violence.”
Only a portion of the law is already in effect, specifically the ban of sale and distribution of these weapons in Illinois. The requirements for gun owners or people who were in the process of buying an assault weapon before the law was signed to register their weapons with Illinois State Police will not go into effect until 2024.
Governor J.B. Pritzker criticized law enforcement officials speaking out against the Protect Illinois Communities Act, claiming they are cherry-picking laws to enforce.
“You don’t get to decide ‘I’m going to drive 150 miles an hour on the highway and there should be no consequences,'” Pritzker said. “And the same thing is true about carrying out the assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines.”
Illinois is the ninth state to ban assault weapons. The U.S. Court of Appeals have decided past assault weapon bans in Highland Park and Cook County were constitutional; the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear both cases.
Chance Sticklen contributed to the reporting of this article.