What Really Happens If IL Gun Owners Don't Register Guns

What Really Happens If IL Gun Owners Don't Register Guns
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

The state of Illinois now has a gun register. People are expected to tell the government what they currently have so they know where all the lawfully owned guns are located. Not all of them, of course, just those evil “assault weapons.”

This was billed as a way to prevent so-called gun crime, of course, though no one with half a brain things the bad guys are going to register jack. Not that most of them would use an AR-15 anyway. Handguns are much more concealable.

So far, not a lot of people are taking advantage of the registration period.

In fact, it seems this has someone worried. Now they’re running reports of what happens if someone doesn’t register their guns.

But prominent gun rights advocates have hinted that many people will not just wait, but instead will bypass registration completely.

What then?

State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) said the registry is near the top of the “million” reasons he voted against the law last January.

Questions like, as Halbrook put it, “What happens when hundreds of thousands of gun owners are non-compliant overnight and otherwise, they’re just otherwise totally law-abiding citizens? What is going to be their punishment for non-compliance?”

The law itself is specific about the penalties that could face gun owners who fail to file affidavits.

Failure to file an endorsement affidavit is a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense.

A second, or subsequent, violation of the registration requirement would be classified a Class 3 felony.

As ISP puts it an FAQ web page, “persons who violate the endorsement affidavit requirements may be arrested and charged.”

Note the “may.”

In response to Halbrook’s question, ISP’s Suzanne Bond said that “it will be up to each individual state’s attorney in the 102 counties to decide how they will enforce that.”

And all of this assumes one thing that it probably shouldn’t: That the authorities will find out someone didn’t register their modern sporting rifle.

That’s a lot harder than many might think.

You see, most people who see such a weapon at a gun range will either figure it’s registered or will figure it isn’t and they don’t care. Unless someone brags that it’s unregistered–and some people really are that stupid–no one will know one way or the other.

As such, unless we have one of those stupid examples I mentioned, the police will likely never know someone has an unregistered AR-15. If they don’t know about it, they can’t arrest anyone for it.

And that’s the real penalty for most people. Nothing.

The law that created the registry, however, also banned the sale of such weapons for millions of people in Illinois, and that’s a bigger thing. So-called assault weapons, termed as modern sporting rifles by the industry that builds and sells them, are useful for self-defense and for sporting purposes, but all of that is now illegal in the Land of Lincoln.

Meanwhile, criminals who want such weapons will still get them. After all, no matter what you ban, if the demand remains, a supply will be provided. We’ve seen that play out repeatedly. That’s not likely to change in Illinois just because they really, really want it to. That’s not how reality works.

For those who have them and aren’t criminals, thus aren’t likely to attract police attention, though, there’s not much chance of anything happening to them. What’s more, people know that, which is probably why so few are registering their guns. It’s why so few registered them in New York when they passed their own registration system for such firearms.

And, honestly, otherwise law-abiding people not tripping over themselves to comply with this isn’t going to cause me a moment of lost sleep.