Illinois’ Assault Weapons ban: From temporary restraining orders to multiple cases – we break it down
A ban on semi-automatic guns and weapons in Illinois has been in effect since last month, but thousands of plaintiffs – for a small fee – are covered by a temporary restraining order issued by Illinois judges in a handful of lawsuits. In other places, like suburban DuPage County, sherriffs have expressed public reticence about enforcing the ban.
How does this affect your own backyard? We boil it down for you.
What the act does: The Protect Illinois Communities Act bans the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches in Illinois. It was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Jan. 10 and was intended to be effective immediately.
House Bill 5471 also extends the ability of courts to prevent dangerous individuals from possessing a gun through firearm restraining orders. It requires existing owners of semi-automatic rifles to register their ownership, ensuring that law enforcement knows the location of these weapons and who to hold accountable.
Sausage-making: If you look at the text of the bill itself, you’ll notice it’s titled Insurance Code-Public Adjusters. Hmm? This is a prime example of the sausage-making process that often goes on in Springfield, when motivated legislators adopt a beat-the-clock mentality to get around the constitutional requirement of proposed legislation needing a certain number of readings. With just days to go in the January lame-duck session, Democratic Senators removed the components of a bill that had already passed the House, plugged in new language, passed the amended bill, and then sent it back to the House for what’s called concurrence, or final sign off.
Temporary Restraining Order: Being a named plaintiff in a case granted a temporary restraining allows one to buy and sell guns and magazines despite the ban.
But it’s also currently up for legal debate whether the law is now on hold for all state residents after the state appeals court expanded a temporary restraining order earlier this month.
Who's Filed Suit: Numerous lawsuits have been filed in both state and federal court challenging the constitutionality of the ban. This includes state cases in Macon, White, Effingham counties, and a federal case in the Southern District of Illinois.
Of note: Attorney Thomas DeVore, a former GOP candidate for attorney general and the lawyer at the center of last year's school anti-mask mandate case, represents more than 4,700 individual plaintiffs from across Illinois in several of the state court cases.
His website notes that for a "flat fee of $200," anyone "who desires to join and be part of this case is free to do so."
Who's refusing to enforce? DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick first said in a Jan. 13 statement that he believes the assault weapons ban signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker is unconstitutional.
"I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution," Mendrick said.
Yet, in early February, after Mendrick, DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy and DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin met, Medrick changed his tune.
"Enforcement of this law does not demand that deputies go door to door seeking to remove weapons from those licensed to own them. With this understanding, Sheriff Mendrick is committed to enforcing all state and local laws," Berlin, Conroy, and Mendrick said in a Jan. 31 statement posted on Facebook.
Beyond DuPage County, numerous other officials in Republican-leaning and swing districts including Kane, DeKalb, McHenry, La Salle, Grundy, and Kankakee – have also expressed public reticence about enforcing the ban.
Who's defending the act: In state court, lawyers representing Democratic legislative leaders, who are named defendants in the federal lawsuit, are defending the ban, along with Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who represents Gov. J.B. Pritzker, also named in the suit. Raoul is also defending the law in the federal case.
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