Illinois Democrats may push gun control votes until after elections

The push for a ban on so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines is growing stronger in Illinois, with the city council in Highland Park unanimously approving a resolution this week calling for both a statewide and federal ban on modern sporting rifles. Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature, and there’s been talk that Gov. J.B. Pritzker will call lawmakers back for a special session this fall to approve several bills protecting access to abortion, but gun control legislation could also be considered during the session in just a few weeks.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times,  Democrats in Springfield are mostly pondering when to push these new restrictions, not whether or not these gun control measures are worth supporting at all.

There is internal debate over whether to bring up legislative proposals before the November election — and expose some Downstate Democrats to a vote they would rather avoid — or wait for the fall veto session, which takes place after the election. The state House needs 71 yes votes to make any bill effective immediately and 60 votes for a 2023 effective date.

So what could be on the table when lawmakers start moving bills? The resolution approved by Highland Park may provide some evidence of what anti-gun Democrats will be focusing on.

The Highland Park resolution calls for state and federal actions on assault weapons, with a ban on large capacity bullet magazines being called for because it allows, as the resolution noted, a shooter to “fire at large numbers of people without taking time to reload, thereby dramatically increasing the number of lives shattered by gun violence.”

Specifically the Highland Park resolution called for Congress and the state of Illinois to ban the manufacture, purchase, sale, possession and use of all semi-automatic weapons; high capacity ammunition cartridges and body armor, except as needed by military and law enforcement.

The resolution called for legislation strengthening red flag laws “to better allow law enforcement, family members, employers and school employees to seek restraining orders against an individual suspected of being a clear and present danger to themselves and others.”

The resolution also demands that “the state of Illinois to enact stricter rules for the issuance of Firearms Owners Identification Cards” and calls for the state “to more rigorously screen applicants for FOID cards and make more comprehensive use of clear and present danger reporting data.”

The constitutionality of each and every one of these proposals has already been called into question through multiple lawsuits at both the state and federal level. Two judges in Illinois have the FOID card to be unconstitutional as it applies to keeping a gun in the home, though the state Supreme Court has overturned those decisions on questionable technicalities. Lawsuits taking on similar bans on modern sporting rifles and magazine bans, meanwhile, were granted cert by SCOTUS after it handed down the Bruen decision, with appellate court decisions upholding those bans being vacated and the cases remanded back to lower courts for a do-over.
I don’t think those pending legal challenges will stop Illinois Democrats from putting their own infringements on the right to bear arms on the books, even as Chicago’s criminals demonstrate their willingness to ignore the state’s gun control laws on a daily basis. Fixing a broken criminal justice system is hard, especially compared to passing gun control legislation when you’ve got a legislative supermajority. When these laws don’t do anything to reduce violent crime, Democrats will just declare that they didn’t go far enough, and another round of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms is necessary. There’s no way to ban our way to safety, but that doesn’t mean anti-gun lawmakers won’t keep trying as long as they’ve got the votes to do so.