NRA challenges Illinois semiautomatic gun ban in court: ‘Blatant violation’ of Second Amendment rights
NRA says it will not ‘stand by while activist politicians pass unconstitutional laws’
Dozens of Illinois sheriffs vow to defy governor’s assault weapons ban
Gov. Pritzker signed gun-control legislation into law earlier this month
More than six dozen Illinois sheriffs have vowed to defy a gun-control law signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker that bans semiautomatic rifles.
“Part of my duties that I accepted upon being sworn into office was to protect the rights provided to all of us, in the Constitution,” Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe said in a Facebook post.
“One of those rights enumerated is the right of the people to KEEP and BEAR ARMS provided under the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people.”
Boewe is one of at least 74 sheriff offices that have posted statements in opposition of the law, according to ABC News.
The Illinois Senate passed its version of the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” last Monday. The bill bans assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from being manufactured or sold in the state. Pritzker signed the bill into law last Tuesday, banning the manufacturing and sale of types of semiautomatic rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns, as well as attachments that can increase a gun’s fire rate.
The Illinois Sheriff’s Association said in a statement that it opposed the bill since its inception.
“We, as a representative of chief law enforcement officials throughout Illinois, are very concerned and disturbed by the ongoing and escalating violence throughout our State and Country,” the statement, released Wednesday, said.
“We are always supportive of new tools, techniques and laws that assist us in preventing and holding accountable those that wage efforts of harm and violence on others. However, this new law does not do that.”
Richland County Sheriff Andrew R. Hires said in a Facebook post that “The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people.”
“I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution,” Hires said.
There are at least 102 sheriff’s offices in Illinois. The 74 offices vowing to defy the new law will affect roughly 30% of residents in the state, according to ABC News.
Cook County, the state’s most populous county that is home to about 40% of the Illinois population, has not spoken out against the law.
Pritzker said during an interview on MSNBC last week that sheriffs opposing the law are taking part in “political grandstanding.”
“It’s our state police and law enforcement across the state that will, in fact, enforce this law, and these outlier sheriffs will comply or, frankly, they’ll have to answer to the voters,” Pritzker said.
His office added in comment to Fox News Digital on Monday that “sheriffs have a constitutional duty to uphold the laws of the state.”
“This is political grandstanding at its worst. The assault weapons ban is the law of Illinois. The General Assembly passed the bill and the Governor signed it into law to protect children in schools, worshippers at church, and families at parades from the fear of sudden mass murder,” a Pritzker spokesperson said.
“Sheriffs have a constitutional duty to uphold the laws of the state, not pick and choose which laws they support and when. We’re confident that this law will hold up to any future legal challenges, but again, it is the current law of our state. Anyone who advocates for law, order, and public safety and then refuses to follow the law is in violation of their oath of office.”
Fox News’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.
Semiautomatic weapons ban becomes Illinois law
Opponents vow to challenge the IL legislature’s sweeping gun ban in court
Illinois banned the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons Tuesday when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation driven largely by the killing of seven people at a 4th of July parade last year in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.
Pritzker acted without hesitation after the House voted 68-41 to make Illinois the ninth state, as well as Washington, D.C., to prohibit the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons. The vote concurred with a plan the Senate OK’d Monday night.
Pritzker, who was sworn into his second term on Monday, celebrated the culmination of what he described as a four-year struggle against “the powerful forces” of gun advocacy groups.
“We will keep fighting — bill by bill, vote by vote, and protest by protest — to ensure that future generations only hear about massacres like Highland Park, Sandy Hook, and Uvalde in their textbooks,” Pritzker said in a statement.
In his inaugural address Monday, the Democrat abhorred not only the Highland Park mass shooting that also left 30 injured, but frequent gun violence in Chicago, notably the gun play that killed two 16-year-olds and injured two others last month at Benito Juarez High School on Chicago’s west side.
Critics warn the governor’s signature will trigger court challenges, which will ultimately overturn the law as a violation of the 2nd Amendment.
Ed Sullivan, a lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association, said legal action will be swift. Senate President Don Harmon closed debate on Senate action Monday night by boldly declaring to critics, “See you in court.” The ISRA responded, “Challenge accepted.”
State Republicans, whose 45 seats dropped by five with a new General Assembly taking over on Wednesday, were left snarling during debate. Rep. Blaine Wilhour of Beecher City, 97 miles northeast of St. Louis, snidely complained that Democrats “despise our Founders.”
“A government willing to defy our Constitution is a government that is completely out of control. So you can sit here and dictate whatever you want today,” Wilhour said. “But I can tell you that we will not comply and you’re not going to do a darn thing about it because the law, the Constitution and the founding principles are on our side.”
The legislation bans dozens of specific brands or types of rifles and handguns, .50-caliber guns, attachments and rapid-firing devices. No rifle will be allowed to accommodate more than 10 rounds, with a 15-round limit for handguns.
Those who already own such guns will have to register them, including serial numbers, with the Illinois State Police. The new law enables merchants to sell or return current stock and Illinois-based manufacturers can sell their wares outside Illinois or to law enforcement.
Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch introduced his mother, Willie Mae Welch, who was with him on the House floor. Welch told how, as a teenager in 1985, his mother’s sister was fatally shot while sitting in a car outside her church. Welch’s aunt had three young girls. His parents, despite having three boys of their own, took them in. No assailant was ever apprehended.
“It’s time that we protect Illinois communities,” Welch said. “It’s time that we protect Illinois families. Let’s end families having to change overnight. Let’s not lose any more brothers and sisters, children to gun violence.”
Welch, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, took the lead on the measure from the original sponsor, Rep. Bob Morgan, a Democrat from suburban Deerfield who was participating in the Highland Park parade when the shooting began.
Eight states and the District of Columbia currently have bans on semiautomatic weapons, according to Tanya Schardt, working in favor of the legislation for the Brady Campaign. They differ in their definitions of semiautomatic weapons, but generally they ban 10-round clips for long guns and handguns. The bans have survived constitutional challenges in scores of courts, she said.
Five states — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York — require registration of guns purchased previous to the law, Schardt said. The other three states with bans are Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Registration often angers current owners but most tolerate the collection of information, Schardt said.
The legislation also provides protection. If police stop a car driven by a semiautomatic gun owner, for example, they can instantly check to ensure it’s legally owned. And it allows law enforcement to trace a gun that, for example, is stolen and used in a crime.
The Senate changed Morgan’s initial proposal, but compromised on changes the House could accept. For example, Morgan proposed raising the age to 21 for obtaining a Firearm Owners Identification card, but the current version allows those younger to get one with parental permission.