Well that didn’t take long. Yesterday the new law requiring gun shops in Illinois get licensed by the state went into effect, but as it turns out, a few hours beforehand a lawsuit was filed challenging the newly enacted statute. The litigation, brought by the Illinois State Rifle Association and several members who are gun store owners, makes the argument that the Firearms Dealer License Certification Act violates the state’s constitution as well as the state’s Administrative Procedures Act.
The gun dealers, described as small businesses who are all members of the rifle association, argue that the new law violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process under the law because it imposes “prohibitive” costs on them. Those include the cost of the licenses themselves, as well as the cost of installing security systems and the potential $10,000 fine for each violation.
The suit also alleges that the new state licensing law places an undue burden on the exercise of the 2nd Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, and violates the state’s Administrative Procedures Act. According to the Illinois State Rifle Association, the state is demanding gun store owners comply with this new law, even though the state hasn’t actually told retailers how to be in compliance with provisions like requiring training for employees and storage mandates for firearms in the business.
Attorneys for the Illinois State Rifle Association are asking for a hearing on an injunction that seeks to block the new law from being enforced, but so far there’s been no word about when that hearing might take place. It’s worth noting that gun owners in Illinois have been quite successful in the courts recently. Deerfield, Illinois’ “assault weapons ban”, for example, was tossed out by a judge earlier this year. A challenge to the state’s Firearms Owner ID card requirement is headed to the State Supreme Court after another judge ruled the FOID Act unconstitutional back in March of this year.
While we’ve seen some legal victories in Illinois, it’s telling and troubling that so many lawsuits have been filed in the first place. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers in the state, including Governor J.B. Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul, have demonstrated their hostility to the lawful exercise of 2nd Amendment rights far more vociferously than they’ve demonstrated any hostility towards violent criminals. It’s almost as if they’re more concerned about Illinois citizens lawfully keeping and bearing arms than they are about the gang violence that rocks the streets of Chicago, Joliet, and other cities on a daily basis.
A spokesman for Governor Pritzker sounded defiant in addressing the new lawsuit, but read his statement very carefully.
“Governor Pritzker was proud to make SB 337 the second bill he signed into law as governor, keeping his promise to prevent senseless gun violence from tearing apart families,” Pritzker’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email. “This commonsense, bipartisan law makes sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands and licenses gun dealers just like restaurants and other businesses. We’re certain the state will vigorously defend this important new law.”
I too am certain that the state will “vigorously defend” this new law, but I’m not at all certain that the state will win, however. Over the past decade Illinois has seen its ban on carrying firearms defeated by the courts, Chicago’s ban on handguns brought down by litigation, and the city’s ban on gun stores eradicated by a federal judge (though there are still no gun stores in the city at the moment). Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of vigorously defending egregiously bad laws, the state sought to protect the constitutional rights of residents instead?