Andrew Chesney


Andrew Chesney


The Attack on Lawful Gun Owners in Illinois Continues with Registration Requirement

Even though the constitutionality of Illinois’ so-called “assault weapons ban” continues to be challenged in federal court, on Monday, September 18, the Illinois State Police (ISP) released rules to implement part of the controversial law. While the law bans a variety of purported assault rifles, it allows owners of those firearms to lawfully keep possession of them providing they submit an endorsement affidavit through their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) account before January 1, 2024. The affidavit states they owned the firearm(s) prior to January 10, 2023—the date in which the legislation took effect.

When Illinois Democrats wrote the gun ban legislation, they called it the “Protect Illinois Communities Act.” Many believe the Act does just the opposite because it prohibits law-abiding gun owners from buying or possessing a list of nearly 200 different varieties of firearms that Democrats determined were “assault weapons” while also banning assault weapon attachments, .50 caliber rifles, .50 caliber cartridges, and high-capacity magazines. While infringing on lawful citizens’ Second Amendment rights, the law is noticeably silent on penalties for those who act as straw purchasers— those who buy guns on behalf of convicted felons and other individuals who are legally prohibited from buying or owning a gun. It is also silent on any enhanced penalties for the criminals who actually commit most violent gun crimes— those who illegally obtain these kinds of firearms with the intent of doing harm.

Nonetheless, Democrats used their supermajorities in the Senate and House and passed the bill (House Bill 5471) on January 10, 2023, during the lame-duck session that immediately preceded the swearing-in of the 103rd General Assembly. Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill into law that same day within hours of final action in the House of Representatives. As is the case with all legislation brought forward during lame-duck sessions, several of the lawmakers who cast votes on HB 5471 were within hours of leaving office, so they had no accountability whatsoever to the constituents in their districts.

As mentioned, within the 111 pages of the Act is a grandfather exemption for those who owned any of the firearms on the banned list prior to the law taking effect. Those who own these firearms and want to keep them are required by the Act to register their guns, so the State of Illinois has a record of them. While there is no monetary cost attached to the affidavit filing, no price tag can be attached to the continued whittling away of our guaranteed freedoms.

During the debate on this legislation, I was an outspoken opponent and pointed out that the measure violates the United States Constitution and is a major infringement on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. Like many of my colleagues, I felt the law sought to disarm law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to stem the flow of illegal guns to criminals. Our legitimate concerns fell on deaf ears.

Legislative Democrats are turning a blind eye to the undeniable fact that heaping more gun restrictions on lawful gun owners while refusing to strengthen penalties that hold criminals to account does nothing to address violent gun crime in our state. Every other state in the Midwest has less restrictive gun laws than Illinois, yet Illinois’ violent crime rate far exceeds crime rates in other midwestern states. Crime rates continue to soar here, and rather than hold offenders accountable, Democrats pass laws like the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” and the SAFE-T Act, which limits police officers’ ability to apprehend suspected criminals and creates a turnstile form of criminal justice that places many of them back on the street within hours of an arrest.

I maintain my belief that the so-called assault weapons ban is unconstitutional. Ultimately, I believe the U.S. Supreme Court will concur and rule that the gun ban law in Illinois undermines America’s constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms, and the promise that those rights shall not be infringed upon.

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