Illinois assault weapon ban heading to Pritzker’s desk

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 6:40 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in Illinois is near the finish line. Senate Democrats approved the proposal Monday night, and the House passed the measure Tuesday afternoon. After hours of public hearings and an intense week of negotiations, the bill is now on its way to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk. Pritzker plans to sign House Bill 5471 into law at 8 p.m.

House and Senate Democrats initially had different ideas this week for the best proposal to ban assault weapons. But top Democratic leaders agreed on bill language shortly before time ran out. Democratic sponsors believe the Protect Illinois Communities Act will be one of the strongest assault weapon bans in the country.

This plan immediately bans the sale, delivery and purchase of assault-style weapons and switches. It also bans the use of magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long guns and more than 15 rounds for handguns.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms is intended to produce a secure state,” Senate President Don Harmon said Monday. “We do not have a secure state. Too many people are dying from gun violence.”

People who currently own assault weapons will have to submit an affidavit form online with their FOID card number and the make, model, caliber and serial number of their guns by Jan. 1, 2024. The information provided to Illinois State Police will not be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

“Let’s end families having to change overnight,” said Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside). “Let’s not lose any more brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and children to gun violence.”

Anyone who has assault weapons before the plan takes effect would still be allowed to possess their guns on private property, at licensed firearm dealers, firing ranges, or while traveling to or from those locations as long as the guns are unloaded and locked in a case.

But many Republican lawmakers said people living in their districts won’t comply with the registration of firearms.

“We’re gonna make felons out of taxpayers,” said Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “Why don’t we go after the bad guys, put them behind bars and actually keep them there?”

The Senate approved House Bill 5471 on a 34-20 vote Monday night before it moved across the rotunda. House Republicans believe the ban will be found unconstitutional after it becomes law. Some also say the plan won’t address the issue at hand, rising gun violence.

“Everyone in this chamber is concerned about violent crime and reducing violent crime,” said Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis). “This bill is not going to reduce violent crime.”

House Democrats faced intense debate from Republicans but the bill passed on a 68-41 vote with retiring House GOP Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) backing the plan. Sponsors and advocates are celebrating the legislation after years of inaction on proposed bans.

”This passage is a huge win for every survivor, for every advocate, for every Illinoisan who has been touched by gun violence and cares about this issue and has poured so much of themselves into this bill. But it’s only the first step,” said Rachel Jacoby, an organizer with March For Our Lives. “There’s so much more work that we need to do to address the gun violence epidemic in Illinois.”

Gov. JB Pritzker said he looks forward to signing the plan immediately. Pritzker said the legislation will stop the spread of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and switches to make Illinois a safer place for all. He also thanked Welch and Harmon for championing the effort.

“No Illinoisan, no matter their zip code, should have to go through life fearing their loved one could be the next in an ever-growing list of victims of mass shootings,” Pritzker said. “However, for too long people have lived in fear of being gunned down in schools, while worshipping, at celebrations or in their own front yards.”

Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield), a lead sponsor of the proposal in the House, also celebrated the bill’s passage Tuesday afternoon. Morgan said the Protect Illinois Communities Act is a huge step forward after decades of people demanding common sense gun reforms to reduce the ripple of firearm deaths.

“I am in awe of the countless victims, survivors and family members who sat with us, told us their stories and refused to give up until they got the change we all needed,” Morgan said. “This victory is a testament to their strength and resilience in the face of unimaginable pain, and I am forever grateful to them.”

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