Illinois State Rifle Association readies constitutional lawsuit after assault weapon ban signed into law

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 5:49 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Less than 24 hours after the Protect Illinois Communities Act, also known as the assault weapon ban, was signed into law, sheriffs said they don’t want and won’t enforce the law.

Additionally, the Illinois State Rifle Association is preparing a federal lawsuit calling the constitutionality of the law into question, believing it violates Second Amendment rights.

The ban, signed into law Tuesday evening by Gov. JB Pritzker, would ban the sale, manufacture, purchase, and delivery of “assault-style weapons.” The law includes a long list of brands and weapons contained now illegal in the state. It also limits the amount of ammunition that can be sold.

The law requires Illinois State Police to post the list of now-banned weapons on their website. They and other peace officers are exempt from the law.

Long guns like rifles can only have 10 rounds of ammunition per clip, handguns can have 15, and shotguns can have five rounds. Gun shop owners said some standard-issue clips are now illegal.

McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane issued a similar statement Wednesday night, saying he’s disappointed about the bill’s passage.

“The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right of the people. If the intent of the legislative branch of this state is to change the U.S. Constitution, there is a process that was created long ago to accomplish such a change. Changing Illinois law in what I believe is total conflict with the U.S. Constitution is not how it is done,” Lane said in his news release.

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins released a statement saying he disapproves but did not say if he will enforce it.

“As the Sheriff of Peoria County, I oppose the legislative bill that was recently passed banning law-abiding citizens from buying certain types of firearms,” Watkins said in the statement. " This is another example of Chicago policy being pushed downstate on responsible gun owners. This bill does not solve the root cause of the problem. The real focus should be on the Mental Health Crisis that’s plaguing our communities that I see increasing every day in Peoria County. "

25News reached out to see if he would enforce the law, but he has not yet responded.

Since the law took effect immediately upon signing, these sheriffs are violating the state law by not enforcing it.

“You don’t get to choose which laws you comply with,” Pritzker said when signing the bill Tuesday night. “The reality is the state police is responsible for enforcement as well as all law enforcement across the state. They will do their job or they won’t be in their job.”

One local gun shop manager did not wish to go on the record but said they are in limbo waiting to see how they can continue to operate within the law.

“It really affects 80% of the gun owners, 100% of the firearm dealers in the state,” ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said. “They are kind of stuck with them unless they’ve been previously approved. They only have the choice of sending them back to the company or selling them out of state at this moment.”

Pearson said the lawsuit could be filed within the next month in federal court.