(The Center Square) – Gun rights groups are expected to testify at three public hearings over the state’s gun ban registry. The first is being held Thursday in Springfield.
The state’s gun and magazine ban was enacted Jan. 10. The measure banned the future sale and possession of more than 170 semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns, and magazines over 15 rounds for handguns and over 10 rounds for rifles. The measure does not impact retired police or those active in military, law enforcement or security industries.
Despite constitutional challenges pending in federal court, on Oct. 1, the state opened the portal for firearms owners to register banned guns they owned before Jan. 10, when the law went into effect. A legislative panel asked Illinois State Police, which is hosting, to hold public hearings across the state about the rules. The first is in Springfield at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said the room officials chose is too small for such a big issue.
“I think they’re going to find pretty quick that there’s a lot of people that are very anxious for some answers and just some accountability, somebody to actually talk to about how they’re going to do this,” Wilhour told The Center Square. “Is this the right thing to do.”
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said the hearings are important for the agency to get feedback.
“We’ll see who shows up and we’ll see what the public feedback they wish to provide about that administrative rule process,” Kelly said.
The deadline to register now banned weapons and accessories, or face criminal penalties, is Jan. 1.
“Large capacity ammunition feeding devices are regulated, but do not require [an] endorsement affidavit,” a news release from ISP said of the registry requirement. “Individuals who need help submitting an endorsement affidavit can refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page or visit one of the ISP FOID Kiosks, both of which can be found on the ISP website … Do not bring your weapon, ammunition, or accessories if you visit a Kiosk.”
A joint statement from the Illinois State Rifle Association, the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources and others said the law is extremely vague and the questions about how law-abiding citizens will be impacted by the registry that opened Oct. 1 are mounting.
FFL of Illinois President Dan Eldridge said there are big questions with major consequences.
“One example: what’s an instance of possession of a banned weapon? It’s never really defined,” Eldridge told The Center Square. “Is it per firearm that’s in your safe? Is it your safe if it’s examined at one time? Nobody knows. And the difference between one and two offenses is significant. One’s a misdemeanor and the second one is a felony where you’re stripped of your gun rights, among other things.”
A third hearing will be in Caseyville at 9:30 a.m. Monday.