Almost immediately after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Tuesday banning the sale or possession of semiautomatic firearms—so-called “assault weapons”—Second Amendment advocates promised to quickly challenge the new law in federal court.
According to Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), his group is already raising funds to fight the legal battle. This group has previously sued Illinois gun laws, typically in tandem with national groups such as the Second Amendment Foundation or the National Rifle Association. ISRA is a state affiliate of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. ISRA was a plaintiff in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court case that resulted in the incorporation of the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.
The new law was pushed through after Prairie State anti-gunners capitalized on the mass shooting last July 4 in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.
But Pritzker acknowledged the ban was the product of what he called a four-year effort according to the Los Angeles Times.
Almost immediately after the Illinois House voted 68-41 to pass the ban, Pritzker inked the legislation with much fanfare. Pritzker invoked the names of the Highland Park victims, Kevin and Irina McCarthy, Jacquelyn Sundheim, Katherine Goldstein, Eduardo Uvaldo, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza and Stephen Straus as he signed the law.
There was also stiff opposition.
According to the Times report, State Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City) stated during the floor debate, “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. 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.”
Current owners of affected firearms will be able to keep them but must register them with the Illinois State Police by next Jan. 1. People who already own magazines banned under the new legislation will be allowed to use them on private property, at gun ranges and in competition, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The new law changes limits on magazine capacities: 10 rounds for long guns and 15 for handguns.
Democrats were cocky after pushing the ban through, telling gun rights advocates, “See you in court.” ISRA reportedly responded, “Challenge accepted.”
Pearson told Liberty Park Press Wednesday the phones at his organization’s headquarters have been “ringing off the hook.”
“We have around 23,000 members, and that is going by the moment, literally,” he said. “A guy from Poland called me and said he was born under Communism, and he came to Illinois, and now he’s living under it again.”
ISRA holds an annual rally and march on the capitol in Springfield called IGOLD, and Pearson predicted this year’s event—scheduled March 29—could be much larger than normal.