NPR from Illinois State University

Rep. Caulkins plans lawsuit against the assault weapons ban after limited court order

State Rep. Dan Caulkins, a Republican from Decatur, now represents parts of south and east Bloomington, too.

Days after a judge ruled against Illinois' new assault weapons ban, a central Illinois lawmaker plans to file another lawsuit to keep the ban from becoming law.

That ruling in Effingham County applied only to about 860 plaintiffs. It approved a temporary restraining order, pending another court hearing in the case scheduled for Feb. 1.

On the first full day of his second term, Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed a bill banning the sale, distribution and manufacture of high-power assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and ammunition, and large-capacity magazines while still allowing people who already own such weapons to keep them.

Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins of Decatur said he has heard from gun owners and firearms dealers who also want to go to court.

“Many of my constituents who I saw and spoke with over the weekend asked me how they could get the same privilege,” Caulkins said.

Caulkins, who represents rural parts of central Illinois between Bloomington-Normal, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana in the 88th Illinois House district, said he's collecting names and plans to file suit in Macon County court on Thursday.

Caulkins said attorney Tom DeVore who filed the suit in Effingham County will not be part of the litigation, but he said the court filing will “closely mirror” the arguments DeVore made when the judge ruled in his favor. DeVore's lawsuit claims the ban on assault-style weapons violates equal protection provisions because the ban does not, for example, apply to military members, but it does to retired military.

McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane has joined dozens of Illinois sheriffs in refusing to enforce at least part of the state's new assault weapons ban.

Caulkins said he expects many more lawsuits against the new gun law will follow.

“I know that there’s a lot of FOID cardholders who would like to have those same protections. I would suspect that we’ll see lawsuits pop up all over Illinois in the near future,” Caulkins said. “Hopefully this will take a life of its own here.”

The law requires current owners of the assault-style weapons to register them with the state by the end of the year. Dozens of Illinois sheriffs have said they won't enforce the ban.

Caulkins said several gun rights groups also plan to file a federal lawsuit in Illinois to stop the assault weapons ban from being implemented.

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