Illinois Democrats in overdrive on push for "assault weapons" ban

Illinois Democrats in overdrive on push for "assault weapons" ban
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Even though the calendar has flipped to a new year, at the Illinois state capitol it’s still 2022… kind of. The 2023 legislative session kicks off on January 11th, but until then lawmakers are in a lame duck session of the 2022 legislature, and anti-gun Democrats are rushing to approve a sweeping gun ban before the current session expires on January 10th.

SB 5855, which would not only ban the future sale and manufacture of a host of semi-automatic firearms but require existing owners to register them with the state or face criminal sanctions, will have more hearings this week. The bill’s chief sponsor sounds fairly confident that not only will his gun ban bill be heard on the House and Senate floor, but that it will be swiftly signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Gun owners and Second Amendment advocates, meanwhile, are already pledging to sue the state over the potential infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.

Todd Vandermyde, a long time gun-owner rights advocate, said on his YouTube channel opponents of the measure don’t plan to negotiate on what kinds of guns to ban.

“You’re just educating them on how to build a better mousetrap,” Vandermyde said. “The broader it is, the more heinous it is, the more all-encompassing it is, the easier it’s going to be to kill in court.”

Gun-owner rights groups vow to sue if the measure passes.

Sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, has said Democratic lawmakers will attempt to pass the measure in the lame duck session before it ends Jan. 10.

“We’re seeing a lot of states move in this direction and I believe we’ll have a constitutional bill when we pass it,” Morgan said.

Vandermyde said a series of recent rulings from federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, could indicate a shift in how the judicial branch handles Second Amendment rights.

“We will do a lot better because the broader it is, and we have the benefit of these other decisions that are out there,” Vandermyde said.

Frankly, it shouldn’t matter how broadly or narrowly the bill defines “assault weapons.” A ban on firearms that are in common use for a variety of lawful purposes is unlikely to be greeted with enthusiasm by a majority of Supreme Court justices, though it’s still important to note that the Court has yet to specifically address the constitutionality of a ban on “assault weapons.” Still, there are several challenges to various bans on so-called assault weapons already pending in federal court, including a challenge to Maryland’s ban that was one of several cases that the Court granted, vacated, and remanded down to lower courts last year in the wake of the Bruen decision. The Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments last month about whether to hear the case or kick it all the way down to District Court for a do-over. If the Fourth Circuit does agree to keep the case it could issue its own decision later this year, perhaps even in time for SCOTUS to schedule the case for the fall term.

Sooner or later the Supreme Court will sink its teeth into the constitutionality of these bans, and anti-gun prohibitionists aren’t likely to be happy with the results. Until the Court steps in, however, the gun control lobby and their legislative allies will continue to run roughshod over our right to keep and bear arms in every jurisdiction they can, and gun owners need to be engaged and actively opposing these anti-civil rights measures every step of the way.