Illinois judge says he'll rule on restraining order on gun, magazine ban by Friday

Illinois judge says he'll rule on restraining order on gun, magazine ban by Friday
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

It’s the first of what will be several requests for restraining orders blocking the state’s new ban on “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines from being enforced, and unlike most of the others, the TRO request heard by an Effingham County judge on Wednesday doesn’t center around a Second Amendment challenge to the ban. Instead, attorney Thomas DeVore primarily argued on behalf of more than 850 plaintiffs that the state legislature violated its own rules when rushing the ban into place in the lame-duck legislative session that concluded earlier this month.

The downstate attorney argues that Democratic lawmakers passed the plan in an unconstitutional manner. Judge Josh Morrison said he needs more time to review the case and plans to make a ruling by the end of business Friday.

Morrison asked the Illinois Attorney General’s legal counsel several times if there is a federal law banning assault weapons. A federal assault weapon ban took effect in 1994, but it expired on Sept. 13, 2004.

DeVore noted that he isn’t focused on the Second Amendment for this case. However, he is asking the court to decide whether Illinois lawmakers violated the single-subject rule, three readings clause, and due process for the public when they passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act earlier this month.

The state argued that lawmakers did not break any laws by “gutting and replacing” the original language in House Bill 5471 and passing the proposal 48 hours later. Many political observers also know that it is fairly common for lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to file language into shell bills during the final days of a session in order to get plans passed quickly. Some may even call it the “Springfield way,” as leaders have used the tactic for several decades

Given the Democratic majorities that have been in place in Illinois for several years, I tend to doubt that the “Springfield way” is truly as bipartisan as defenders of the new ban claim it is. But even if Judge Morrison finds that the legislature didn’t break the law in how the ban was enacted, DeVore gave him another route to reach a TRO.

DeVore said this is a very serious issue and he argues that lawmakers should always work in an open and transparent manner. He also argues that the Protect Illinois Communities Act violates equal protection for all gun owners because the language excludes law enforcement and active duty military from the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Although, the state said this exception was included in the law as those individuals receive proper training to use assault-style weapons. DeVore quipped that trained people can do bad things just like un-trained people and he feels that argument in nonsense.

Morrison also said he was concerned that the new law will harm gun store owners by severely cutting their weapon sales.

“Once a business is out of business, there is nothing you can change,” Morrison said.

Morrison says he’ll issue his decision by the close of business on Friday, and by that time, we’re likely to have another legal challenge underway, this one filed in federal court on behalf of the Illinois Gun Rights Alliance. The new coalition consisting of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, Gun Owners of America, Aurora Sportsmen’s Club, Guns Save Life, and State Line Rifle Association announced this week that Second Amendment attorney C.D. “Chuck” Michel will be heading up their legal team, and Michel will be joining me on “Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co” later today to outline the coalition’s arguments and the status of the lawsuit.

In addition to the above litigation, there’s another lawsuit that’s been filed in Crawford County and a federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Illinois by a coalition comprised of the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Illinois State Rifle Association, two gun stores, and an individual gun owner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see organizations like the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation launch legal challenges of their own, either. There will be multiple opportunities for county and federal judges to do the right thing and halt enforcement of the ban while the lawsuits continue, and it won’t be long before we learn what the Effingham County judge has to say.