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Illinois assault weapons ban challenged in court

AR15 rifle
Wikimedia Commons/Igor at work

The state’s new assault weapons law is now facing legal challenges.

That was expected as opponents warned they would take the issue to court. Illinois is the ninth state to approve such a law.

Tom DeVore, last year’s Republican nominee for Illinois Attorney General, has filed suit in Effingham County. DeVore’s action names top Democrats, including Governor JB Pritzker, as defendants.

The suit claims lawmakers violated the rights of gun owners in approving the change to ban the manufacture, sale and purchase of semi-automatic weapons and certain ammunition.

“The great people of the state of Illinois have been waiting decades for legislation just like this,” said Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, a chief co-sponsor of the bill and survivor of the Highland Park mass shooting last summer.

The law also requires people register their semiautomatic weapons with the state within a year. About 90 Illinois sheriffs have issued statements saying they won’t enforce that part of the law.

“No longer can the citizens sit idly by while bureaucrats destroy the very foundational fabric of our great Republic. It’s an honor of my lifetime to play a role in representing the People against tyranny,” DeVore said in a news release Tuesday.  “Whether it be with the Illinois Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, we will continue to seek redress at every available turn until such time as the foundational principles which make this country great are restored to the People.”

Devore, who argues the law violates due process and equal protection clauses of the Illinois Constitution among other concerns, is also seeking a temporary restraining order. A hearing is set for Wednesday morning.

Another challenge has been filed in Crawford County.

Meanwhile, the Illinois State Rifle Association said it has filed a suit in federal court, in the Southern District of Illinois.

“Governor Pritzker and the legislators who voted for this law did this for self-serving political purposes and are not upholding the United States Constitution,” said Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the ISRA. “The 2nd Amendment is fundamentally about self-defense, and the 14th Amendment is about not having our rights infringed. This new law makes criminals out of law abiding citizens."

“The real problem is that there are existing gun laws that do not work because they are not enforced,” Pearson added. “We would all be much safer if the police had the resources they need, and there were stronger consequences for the non-law-abiding citizens.”

Joining the federal suit are the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., and the Second Amendment Foundation, along with a resident of St. Clair County and two Illinois gun stores.

The legislation came about after a deadly mass shooting July 4, 2022 at a Highland Park parade and other tragedies. Supporters of the law said they anticipated court challenges, but have stated confidence it can withstand the review.

But others aren’t so sure. Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, was quoted in the Washington Post raising doubts it will survive.

“There’s at least a decent chance that the law will be struck down,” he said.

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