Illinois’ newly-imposed ban on so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines hasn’t fared well in the county courts where the new laws have received a hearing, but the multiple lawsuits filed in federal court have been moving at a much slower pace and relief isn’t imminent for the state’s gun owners, unfortunately.
On Friday a U.S. District judge consolidated four of the federal lawsuits into Barrett v. Raoul, which is the case brought by the National Shooting Sports Foundation along with two gun owners and two Illinois gun stores, and set a schedule for the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction. According to the timeline laid out by Judge Stephen McGlynn, the oral arguments on the request for an injunction won’t take place until mid-April. That may seem like a long time for the Illinois gun owners whose rights are currently being infringed, but the wheels of justice can grind even more slowly than this, and Second Amendment supporters seem largely okay with how the judge has handled the cases to date.
“The important thing is, I don’t need to be papered to death on this,” McGlynn said during a conference call with plaintiffs and defendants Friday.
Attorneys with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, representing Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly, are to respond to a motion from plaintiffs for injunctive relief by March 2, and March 16 to answer charges the law violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Todd Vandermyde is consulting for plaintiffs in the Illinois Gun Rights Alliance case against the ban. He said the judge seems on top of the issues.
“I don’t think he’s going to be rushed, but I think he’s going to give everybody the opportunity to get everything into the record to build the case because he knows this is going up on appeal,” Vandermyde told the Center Square.
A number of the lawsuits, including the state-level challenges to the new gun and magazine ban, also allege violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, but McGlynn said on Friday that he wants the briefs from both sides to focus on the law’s impact on the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents, leaving the county lawsuits to delve into the arguments that law violates other fundamental rights. Vandermyde says that too should help to expedite McGlynn’s decision
Vandermyde said that was about case management.
“And it’s another set of briefings that we don’t have to deal with and argue here,” Vandermyde said. “It’s already complicated enough.”
Oral arguments in the federal case will happen in East St. Louis at 1:30 p.m. April 12.
While McGlynn won’t hear from both sides in person until then, the four county-level lawsuits are proceeding as well, and there’s a status hearing scheduled for March 3rd on those cases, which have also largely been consolidated.
As the legal efforts continue, the new laws are drawing more opposition from outside Chicago and the city’s suburbs. Last week supervisors in McHenry County approved a resolution opposing the new gun laws, calling them a violation of the Second Amendment.
Dozens of residents attended the Tuesday board meeting, with some arguing in favor of the gun ban and others arguing against it.
Residents spoke for approximately two hours during the public comment portion.
The board’s resolution says the law “threatens to make felons out of otherwise law-abiding citizens for exercising their constitutional rights.”
“The County of McHenry recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right under the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States… [HB 5471] will negatively impact the lives, jobs, and businesses in the County of McHenry, resulting in countless loss of jobs and economic activity for its citizens,” the resolution says.
The resolution publicly calls for the law to be repealed and also calls on the McHenry County state’s attorney to take legal action.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally filed a lawsuit last month in McHenry County Circuit Court against the law.
It’s nice to see the board backing up Kenneally’s lawsuit, but it’s even better that the state’s attorney didn’t wait for the board to weigh in before taking on the new law in court.
The lawsuit alleges that the law violates the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Section 22 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution, which also protects a resident’s right to bear arms.
“The party of unchecked power in Illinois knew the law was constitutionally problematic when they, like the SAFE-T Act, passed it in an irregular legislative session, without any meaningful debate, and under cover of darkness,” Kenneally said.
The suit names Governor JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul as defendants.
“We at the State’s Attorney’s Office have well-founded concerns that the law is unconstitutional and will, again, head to court to ensure we uphold our sworn obligation to protect and defend the United States and Illinois Constitutions,” Kenneally said.