Illinois 'Assault Weapons' Registration Mandate Is Already in Shambles

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

It’s now been a week since the deadline passed for Illinois gun owners to register their now-banned “assault weapons”, and the big question at the moment is which agencies, if any, are actually enforcing the new law. We’ve seen plenty of sheriffs and some state’s attorneys publicly say that they won’t be arresting or charging anyone for non-compliance, and as my colleague Tom Knighton reported on Friday, the Illinois State Police has said much the same; they won’t be actively looking for those they know have guns but failed to register them, though if a state trooper finds someone in possession of an unregistered firearm they may still make an arrest.


The state police are also keeping the registration portal open just in case any gun owner feels like registering after the deadline has come and gone. Maxon Shooting Supplies owner Dan Eldridge says he’s not even sure if that’s allowed under the text of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, and wonders if registering after the deadline opens gun owners up to criminal liability.

It sounds like a terrible idea to us. It is not obvious from where the ISP derives the authority to modify the Act’s language, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.

The department says it won’t pursue criminal charges against late affadavits, but does this prevent an anti-gun Cook or Lake County state’s attorney from doing so? 

Put these failures, sloppy work product, and mis-steps together, and it’s easy to see that nobody knows with complete certainty what and when registration affidavits must be filed.  Even those tasked with enforcement don’t seem to understand the requirements of this act.

  • The Office of the Lake County State’s Attorney posted a notice on its facebook page warning law-abiding citizens that they must register their assault weapons and high-capacity magazines by December 31.
  • The Governor is on camera warning law-abiding citizens that they must register their automatic and semi-automatic rifles and magazines.

There is no requirement to register magazines, and the act does not mention full-auto. Yes, if a full auto is a selective fire device, the semi-auto capability would require registration, but it’s obvious that these politicians have no idea what they are talking about.


Even the Illinois State Police website warns that “individuals who possessed assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other devices listed in the Act before it took effect are required to submit an endorsement affidavit through their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card account by JANUARY 1, 2024,” though the statute only requires owners of those magazines to submit an affidavit if one has been transferred to them after the deadline had passed.

If the people who wrote the law and the agencies tasked with enforcing it don’t even know the details of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, how can the average Illinois gun owner possibly be expected to be aware of all of the intricacies in the legislation? That confusion may be one reason why compliance with the registration mandate has been so low (Maxon estimates about 4.2% of gun owners have submitted their affidavits to the state police), but Maxon believes there’s a large amount of civil disobedience taking place as well.

Nearly every county sheriff and most of the county State’s Attorneys have stated that they will not enforce this Act.  Residents of those counties have little incentive to register.

The act is highly offensive to otherwise law-abiding Illinois gun owners.  It is a mess of legislation put into law:

  • by individuals who know little to nothing about firearms
  • who are willfully ignorant of the difference between lawful ownership and criminal misuse of firearms
  • and who abused (again) the proper process for introducing and debating bills, jamming this through in the middle of the night on the last day of the 102nd General Assembly.
The great Milton Friedman is said to have remarked:

“The British follow all the laws, good and bad, the French ignore all the laws, and the Americans follow the good ones and ignore the bad ones”

Non-compliance with unjust laws: It’s as American as apple pie.


So long as Illinois gun stores like Maxon Shooter’s Supplies aren’t selling these now-banned arms, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other anti-gunners in Illinois will still consider PICA a win even if the lack of compliance with the registration mandate makes a mockery of their latest anti-2A effort. The legal battles to have the gun and magazine ban (along with the accompanying registration requirement) declared unconstitutional are continuing to play out in federal court, and there’s a strong likelihood that U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn, who denied a request for an injunction against the registration mandate shortly before it took effect, will revisit the issue before long and hopefully put the mandate on ice while the litigation runs its course. Either way, I don’t see any signs that hundreds of thousands of Illinois gun owners will be registering their banned arms now that the deadline has passed, even if the Illinois State Police is encouraging them to do so.


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