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Illinois Gun Ban May Be Decided With Supreme Court

Holland McKinnie
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Illinois’ controversial gun ban and registry have been declared unconstitutional by a Macon County, Illinois, judge, who is expected to sign an agreed order to this effect. The decision sets up a direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. The state of Illinois is arguing that the decision of a federal appellate court about the ban is wrong and is hoping to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court as quickly as possible.

The ban, which Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law on January 10, applies to specified semi-automatic weapons and magazines over certain capacities. The law further requires anyone who legally purchased such weapons before the ban went into effect to register them with Illinois State Police before the start of next year.

The state court case, which concluded on Friday in Macon County, was brought by state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R) and included a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring the state from enforcing the law against the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. It is one of several cases brought by attorney Thomas DeVore in Illinois courts. Those cases have all been consolidated by an order of the Illinois Supreme Court. A TRO is also in place for those consolidated cases.

The first TRO issued centered on an argument that the law violates the equal protection doctrine by exempting certain professions in security and law enforcement. 

The state appealed from the TRO. The federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the TRO on the basis of the equal protection argument. That order led to three additional TROs being issued by trial-level courts, including for the Macon County case.

Four additional federal cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois have a hearing set for April 12. The state filed papers in those cases on Thursday in defense against restraining orders, arguing that the ban addresses dangerous and unusual weapons the drafters of the Constitution couldn’t imagine at the time of the founding of the nation.

The plaintiffs argue the law violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and the clear requirements of recent Supreme Court precedents.


According to attorney Jerry Stocks, the judgment issued by the Macon County judge on Friday applies statewide, pending an expected appeal from the state. “A judgment that a law is unconstitutional we submit would be void as if it never existed and it would be unenforceable in all applications and in all respects, that would mean statewide,” Stocks said.

Stocks added: “If a law is unconstitutional, it’s unconditional, and I would not want to be in the position of any law enforcement ever enforcing a law that’s been adjudicated unconstitutional.”