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District court plaintiffs reject Illinois’ argument for gun ban registry rules

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(The Center Square) – A federal judge is preparing to hear oral arguments in a challenge to Illinois’ looming gun ban registry. Plaintiffs are looking to delay the Jan. 1 deadline to register now banned guns or face potential criminal penalties.

Illinois’ gun ban requires those who own such firearms from before the law was enacted to register with state police by the first of the year or face criminal penalties. In a motion to dismiss a request for a temporary delay of the Jan. 1 deadline, the state argued they’ve given ample notification.

“Both the deadline for and the scope of the endorsement affidavit process have been apparent on the face of the Act since it took effect nearly a year ago – far exceeding what due process requires,” the state said in a brief filed Dec. 1.

Kostas Moros, an associate attorney with Michel and Associates, filed a response for the plaintiffs this week. He said the state’s emergency rule process and public notification of the registry is a “legal fiction.”

“Even now, the [Illinois State Police] is still tweaking their rules,” Moros told The Center Square. “Their FAQ changes almost daily. We submitted evidence showing the six-page chart they have tracking just the edits on their FAQ page and then the FAQ of course doesn’t carry the force of law or rules anyway, and because of that, they’ve submitted two sets of revisions to their emergency rules.”

The most recent set of revised emergency rules from ISP were published this week through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

“Typically, people have months or years before things take effect. Now, they have days,” Moros said.

The state told the judge in a brief that gun owners have a choice to make.

“[T]hey can submit an endorsement affidavit prior to January 1, 2024, that allows them to keep possessing these weapons in 2024 and beyond; or they can relinquish possession through selling the weapons, transferring them out of Illinois, or otherwise lawfully disposing of them,” the state’s filing said.

Judge Stephen McGlynn is set to hear oral arguments in the case next week. He is expected to issue a ruling before the Christmas holiday. Moros didn’t want to predict how McGlynn will rule.

“All we’re trying to do here is preserve the status quo for longer so people can have more time to figure this out, so the litigation can play out and we see if registration is even constitutional because if the core ban is unconstitutional, that would put registration into question,” Moros said.

Oral arguments are Dec. 12, the same day the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will take up the latest edits of rules from the Illinois State Police.

In the U.S. Supreme Court, plaintiffs in the case Bevis v. Naperville, and the state of Illinois, challenging the local and statewide gun ban, filed a response to the state’s reply to a motion for an emergency preliminary injunction against the law.

The state argued Wednesday for the plaintiffs requested injunction to be denied. They said plaintiffs have not shown that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to grant a request for the gun ban challenge to be heard, that they have not shown they are entitled to relief and that it is not clear the law is inconsistent with the nation’s history of regulating firearms.

Plaintiffs argue in a filing Thursday that, among other things, the state can’t reconcile its handgun ban with previous precedent, the state’s argument amounts to backdoor means-end scrutiny, the state’s history and tradition analysis fails, the state’s ‘military weaponry’ argument is meritless, ‘common use’ is not limited to ‘commonly fired,’ plaintiffs are suffering irreparable harm, and an injunction would not be contrary to the public interest.

The next step in the Bevis case in front of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has not been published. Motions for the full Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review plaintiffs’ appeals are still pending.

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