While Illinois’ ban on so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines is still facing multiple legal challenges, it looks like the law’s registration requirement will go into effect on January 1 after the Supreme Court declined to intervene on an emergency basis. There’s still a slight chance that U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn will issue an injunction halting enforcement of the gun registration scheme, but even he said he’s inclined to let the mandate take effect during a recent court hearing.
So far, gun owners in the Land of Lincoln appear to have been resistant to the demands of the state. According to the Illinois State Police, there’ve been 8,143 gun owners who have complied with the registration mandate to date; fewer than one percent of all Firearm Owner ID card holders in the state. Now, not everyone who possess a FOID card owns one or more of the newly-banned items, but it’s safe to say that compliance has been slow in coming. With the deadline a little more than a week away, the question is now how many gun owners will comply at all.
State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, who helped craft the gun and magazine ban that was enacted earlier this year, expects people to comply with the registry requirement, or after Jan. 1., they’ll be criminals.
“They want to be law-abiding citizens and they want to be consistent with state law and they will register their existing legacy weapons otherwise they’re risking their FOID card,” Morgan said last month. “I think the vast, vast majority of people are just committed to being law-abiding citizens the way they are now.”
Yes, they do want to be law-abiding citizens. They also want the law to make sense, and not to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. Civil disobedience does come with risks, in this case, the risk of criminal charges and potentially losing their ability to legally own any gun in the state of Illinois in the future. With many downstate sheriffs and even some state’s attorneys saying they have no plans on enforcing the provisions, some gun owners in those locales may very well decide the risk is worth it.
Gun rights advocate Todd Vandermyde said everyone is going to have to make up their decision on how they comply with the law.
“I happen to be one of those guys that once the government gets their hands on data, it never goes away, that the internet is forever,” Vandermyde told The Center Square.
While state’s attorneys and sheriffs across the state have said they will not make enforcement of the gun ban registry a top priority, Michael Brown, a firearms instructor in Chicago, expects Cook County police to enforce the law.
“And so in good conscience I can’t suggest that people in Cook County, in Chicago don’t register because you stand the chance of losing your freedom and your [concealed carry] license,” Brown said.
I’d say that unless their sheriff or police chief has gone on the record about not enforcing the new law, gun owners should assume that their local law enforcement will be filing charges if they run across someone in possession of an unregistered “assault weapon”, even if that’s the only supposed crime that’s been committed.
At the hearing back on December 12th, Judge McGlynn did say that, even if he doesn’t issue an injunction now, he’d be inclined to deny the motion without prejudice, which would allow for the plaintiffs to seek another injunction after the registration mandate takes effect. Whether that will have an impact on the number of people willing to register their guns ahead of the deadline remains to be seen, but it’s clear that even after January 1st the registration mandate will remain unsettled in the eyes of the law no matter how many Illinois gun owners choose to comply or defy the state’s edict.