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Illinois Judge Blocks New State Gun Ban

Holland McKinnie
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An Illinois state court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the new assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban recently signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

On Friday, Effingham County Judge Joshua Morrison issued the order in a lawsuit filed by former Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general Tom DeVore.

DeVore told reporters that he represents hundreds of Illinois citizens from dozens of counties statewide. The complaint filed in the case argues that the new state law is a gross violation of the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment.

The terms of the restraining order limit the current ruling to the 850 Effingham County residents and four licensed firearms dealers in the county listed as plaintiffs in the case.

DeVore also said of the lawsuit and the state law: “If the General Assembly wants to pass a law then do it in the wide open, don’t do it like thieves in the night and let everybody know what they’re doing and see what they’re doing and give them a chance to participate, and I think that’s what the judge was trying to say and I look forward to this case as it continues.”

Judge Morrison wrote in his ruling that in addition to the Second Amendment claims, the plaintiffs have “shown a likelihood of success in relation to the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.”

The ruling cites a key decision from the U.S. Supreme Court handed down last year in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In that 6-3 ruling, the high court found that the plain text of the Second Amendment protects the rights of American citizens to carry firearms for self-defense.

The judge also found that the Illinois legislature moved so quickly in passing the law “the effect to protected classes could not have been considered, nor could the Legislature have studied if this was the least restrictive way to meet their goal.”

Pritzker signed the law into effect on January 10. The state legislature enacted it in response to a Highland Park shooting at an Independence Day parade last year that killed seven people. 

The law purports to ban dozens of handguns and rifles, all .50-caliber weapons, and magazines holding more than ten rounds in rifles and 15 in handguns.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s team attempted to argue against a restraining order by claiming the state could successfully defend the statute at trial. They claimed that the law should stand because it carves out exemptions for “professionals with specialized firearms training and experience, such as law enforcement and members of the military, easily survive rational basis scrutiny.”

Pritzker responded to the ruling by saying he is disappointed but not surprised. “It is the initial result we’ve seen in many cases brought by plaintiffs whose goal is to advance ideology over public safety.” He referred to the loss as “only the first step” in defending the draconian measure.

Multiple sheriffs across Illinois have issued public statements since the law was signed, saying they will refuse to enforce the unconstitutional measure in their counties. In addition, many district attorneys throughout the state have also said they will not prosecute citizens under the unlawful statute.