(The Center Square) – The first lawsuits have been filed against the state of Illinois’ new ban on certain guns the legislature deems assault weapons and more lawsuits are expected.
Last week, on the final day of the 102nd General Assembly, the legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms. No future sales are allowed. Guns already in possession must be registered with Illinois State Police by Jan. 1, 2024. Non compliance can bring a Class 2 felony.
Magazines of more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for handguns also are banned. Possession could be a petty offense and a fine of $1,000 for each violation.
Dozens of Illinois’ 102 counties have said they will not enforce the law.
Gun-rights groups refused to negotiate the measure when it was being discussed in subject matter hearings at the Illinois statehouse late last year and earlier this month. They’ve long promised litigation.
In Crawford County, Attorney Thomas Maag filed a challenge in state court on behalf of three individuals. He said the law doesn’t just violate citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, it also violates the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and the 14th Amendment.
“They’re requiring you to fill out a form under oath admitting that you possess these firearms that they have declared unlawful,” Maag told The Center Square. “You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself.”
Attorney Thomas DeVore filed a separate lawsuit in Effingham County Tuesday on behalf of more than 860 plaintiffs alleging, among other things, violations of equal protections. The law exempts active duty and retired law enforcement officers and other employees of certain law enforcement and security industries.
“If you’re going to classify different groups of people in a law that’s implicating a fundamental right, which [the Second Amendment] is, it has to survive strict scrutiny,” DeVore told The Center Square.
An emergency hearing for immediate injunctive relief in DeVore’s case is scheduled Wednesday morning, he said. Maag’s case does not yet have a hearing date.
Also separate, the newly announced Illinois Gun Rights Alliance featuring gun store owners and others said they are preparing litigation. Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois board member Dan Eldrige is part of the group.
“Our legal team and alliance members will be a force for the restoration of Illinois citizens gun rights, period and full stop. Game on,” Eldrige told The Center Square.
Friday, Illinois State Rifle Association put out the word it is seeking plaintiffs to join a lawsuit. Hundreds reached out. Alongside the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition, Ed Sullivan, with the ISRA, expects their lawsuit to be filed in federal court in the days ahead. He said regardless of which lawsuit does it, the goal is to block the law.
“Because right now, our Second Amendment rights are being infringed, as we speak, the minute the governor signed that bill,” Sullivan told The Center Square.
The law went into effect immediately after Pritzker signed the bill last week.