SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman is getting emails from concerned gun owners.
“I want people of Champaign County to know, I will follow the law,” Heuerman said. “But I’m not going to violate constitutional rights either.”
Heuerman is not on the long list of sheriffs who say they believe the assault weapons ban is a violation of the second amendment. Those sheriffs say they won’t be proactively checking if people properly registered their weapons.
By saying he would not outright oppose the law like other sheriffs, gun owners in Champaign County assumed Heuerman would go door-to-door, but that will not be happening in any county. The law does not require officers to proactively seek out unregistered guns.
“It’s not and it’s not something that I want my deputies to do anyways,” Heuerman said.
Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell is on the list of sheriffs.
“In my 30 years in law enforcement, I have never seen a bill passed like this, and signed into law that was on his face, so unconstitutional.”
Sheriffs have a lot of power, but ruling a law unconstitutional is not one of them. That is for the courts to decide. Opponents of the ban threatened legal action constantly throughout the legislative process, and Tuesday, the lawsuits started rolling in.
Former Attorney General Candidate Tom DeVore filed a lawsuit in Effingham County on behalf of a shooting range. Another lawsuit was filed in Crawford County.
The Illinois State Rifle Association is expected to file a lawsuit at the federal level, too.
These lawsuits will be the last test for the assault rifle ban before more of the provisions officially go into effect. The ban on the sale of assault weapons went into effect immediately when the bill was signed. The registration component will take longer to implement.
People don’t have to have their guns registered with the state until January 1st, 2024. The rules for that registration and the enforcement aren’t in place, yet. A rulemaking committee made up of lawmakers from both parties will meet sometime over the next few months to vote on the implementation. State police will help draft the rules.
“ISP is in the process of updating training and providing clarity for our officers to enforce this new law, which we will share with local law enforcement agencies,” a spokesperson for ISP said in a statement to WCIA. “Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to follow the law and this is the law.”
Heuerman says it’s a slippery slope for sheriffs to enforce laws based on their beliefs. It’s the reason he refused to send out the statement provided to sheriffs all over the state from the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.
“Not agreeing with the law, does not equal it being unconstitutional and does not equal me not enforcing that as a law enforcement officer,” Heuerman said.
Campbell agrees that it is a slippery slope. Ultimately, he points to other unrelated actions from the Governor and Attorney General’s offices as good reasons to take this drastic action.
“I and no other sheriff in the state enjoys what’s going on right now,” Campbell said. “We didn’t want to be put in this position. So again, you know, we’ve seen constant violations of other statutes that nobody’s mentioning. So the Governor and the Attorney General calling up the sheriff’s because we want protect people’s constitutional rights is disingenuous, you don’t get it both ways. And that was our frustration.”