Gov. Pritzker signs bill banning assault style weapons, gun advocates ready to sue


Andrew Kula

The assault weapons ban in Illinois will begin Jan. 1, 2024 and will restrict the amount of magazines that certain guns can have. Republicans in the state are ready to sue the law, stating that it impedes on their second amendment right to own a firearm.

Andrew Kula, Coeditor-in-Chief

It was a momentous night for Democrats in Springfield when Gov. JB Pritzker signed a statewide ban on assault style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines Jan. 10. This was after the state legislature voted to approve the ban, 68-41 in the House and 34-20 in the Senate. 

“Today we made history, becoming the ninth state to institute an assault weapons ban and one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the nation,” said Pritzker in his statement. 

The legislation took immediate effect once Pritzker signed the bill and was called by many lawmakers as a response to the July 4. Highland Park parade massacre where seven people were killed and 36 wounded. Along with banning assault style weapons as a whole, the bill will ban the sale, delivery and purchase of these weapons and limit the amount of magazines in both long guns and handguns. 

According to Pritzker, the Highland Park massacre was able to occur, “all because our state and our nation have been held hostage by the NRA and their allies time and time again.”

Along with the governor, state Democrats spent the night touting their success with gun safety legislation that has been stalled for years. 

“Gun violence is an epidemic that is plaguing every corner of this state and the people of Illinois are demanding substantive action. With this legislation we are delivering on the promises Democrats have made and, together, we are making Illinois’ gun laws a model for the nation,” said Pritzker, House Speaker Emmanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon in a joint statement on Monday. 

With this bill, those that already own guns on the assault weapons list will be allowed to keep them, but they would have to register these weapons with the Illinois State Police. It would still be legal for current owners of the weapons to keep them on private property, in designated hunting areas, at gun ranges and other locations. 

Opponents of the legislation, including many state Republicans, say that they will neither comply with the new law and bring advocates to the court calling the bill unconstitutional. 

Former GOP nominee for governor Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) tweeted, “I’ll die on my front porch before anyone takes my guns away. My message to Springfield: If you want my guns, come get them.” 

Other opponents are emphasizing that it will be the law-abiding citizens that will follow the law and guidelines and that crime itself will not see a decrease throughout the state. 

“This will greatly impact the 2.4 million FOID [Firearm Owners Identification] card law-abiding citizens in Illinois that strongly believe in their second amendment rights,” said state Rep. Thomas Bennet (R- Pontiac). 

Furthermore, local second amendment rights advocates are strongly highlighting that this action and legislation is illegal and impeding on their constitutional rights. 

“The constitutionality of HB 5471 will almost certainly be challenged in court and I look forward to a court ruling that resolves this matter,” said Kendall County Sheriff, Dwight Baird in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. 

To those that are objecting to enforce the law, Pritzker said one thing. “They will in fact do their job or they won’t be in their job.”

The law is set to go in effect Jan. 1, 2024.