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One year of Illinois’ gun ban sees low compliance, stack of lawsuits

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(The Center Square) – More than 170 semi-automatic firearms have been banned in Illinois for a full year as the law continues to face legal challenges and a low compliance rate.

One year ago Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted the Protect Illinois Communities Act despite sheriffs and state’s attorneys across the state saying they won’t make enforcement of the law a top priority.

“Well you don’t get to choose which laws you comply with in the state of Illinois. Let’s be clear,” Pritzker said after signing the bill on Jan. 10, 2023.

The gun ban included a registry with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2024 to comply. About 98.7% of Illinois Firearm Owners ID card holders didn’t register now banned weapons, but not all own them. Former state Sen. Darren Bailey was among those who did not, sayng the gun ban is unconstitutional.

“Our Founding Fathers’ original intent, they guaranteed, they assured, they understood what inalienable rights are and those are rights that are given to we the people, people, individuals, by God, and actually it is up to the government to protect those rights,” said Bailey, R-Xenia.

Pritzker anticipated court challenges after signing the law.

“The law here that we now have enacted is constitutional. There was a lot of thought that went into it to make sure that it would be,” Pritzker said last year.

The law has faced multiple legal challenges since, in both state and federal courts. Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear state Rep. Dan Caulkins’ appeal of a state-level challenge decided by the Illinois Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court also denied preliminary requests from other plaintiffs to block the law while the case played out on the merits.

Richard Pearson with the Illinois State Rifle Association said they plan to soon take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in a separate challenge.

“The number of gun owners in this country has never been higher. People are rebelling against this. So, I look forward to the Supreme Court overruling the PICA act,” Pearson said.

Friday, a separate challenge in the Southern District of Illinois federal court has a scheduling conference to start addressing the merits of the case. In that case, Judge Stephen McGlynn Monday ordered litigants to be prepared to discuss whether or not they plan to have witnesses or expert testimony during the evidentiary hearing.

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