Latest gun ban lawsuit seeks to allow certain gun owners to register

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(The Center Square) – While some lawsuits have attempted to block Illinois’ gun ban registry, the latest seeks to allow people to register banned firearms that were purchased during a six-day window when Illinois’ gun ban was blocked by a federal court.

For six days in late April to early May, the state was blocked from enforcing the gun and magazine ban it enacted in January. Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said people exercised their rights during that window.

“There were lots of them,” Pearson told The Center Square. “I know that firearm stores actually sold out their inventories in many cases.”

After the district-level hold was overturned on appeal by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 4, the state said those who bought banned firearms during the injunction are not allowed to register them and the items would be illegal in 2024.

“Persons who possess a banned firearm or firearm attachment are required to endorse an affidavit by January 1, 2024, stating that any banned firearm or firearm attachments were possessed prior to the enactment of [the Protect Illinois Communities Act] (January 10, 2023),” Illinois State Police said in May.

Pearson said that’s wrong.

“We want the people who were caught in this no-man’s land between the 28th of April and the 4th of May to have the opportunity to register firearms if they want to,” Pearson said.

The Will County lawsuit from Ian Reece against the state filed Thursday said during that six-day period, Reece purchased a firearm covered by the gun ban. It also said he would register the firearm as lawfully possessed, but there is no mechanism with the registry to do so and no rules have been adopted to allow such registration.

“So the only choice is to sell them or move them out of state,” Pearson said. “We believe that’s unconstitutional and we’ve asked the 12th Circuit to rule on this and give us a judgment.”

The docket for the case in Will County Court has a case management date of April 16.

Other lawsuits have attempted, but thus far failed, to block the registration altogether. ISRA also has pending litigation Pearson said will be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite the Jan. 1 deadline, Pearson said even the rules for how the law and registry will be enforced aren’t complete. Emergency rules filed Sept. 15 have not been updated by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. That legislative body does not meet again until Jan. 16.

“It’s a quagmire,” Pearson said. “There’s no way out for a law-abiding gun owner that is reasonable.”

Gun owners with banned items owned before Jan. 10, 2023, are required to register by New Year’s Day. Being found with a banned firearm that is not registered could lead to a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 3 felony for second and subsequent offenses.

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