Revised gun ban rules to be reviewed as Jan. 1 deadline approaches



(The Center Square) – With less than three weeks before Illinois’ gun ban registry deadline kicks in, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is preparing to take up revised rules filed by Illinois State Police.

Emergency rules regarding the registry of now banned guns and accessories were first filed and put into effect on Sept. 15. The gun ban registry opened Oct. 1. The deadline for gun owners to register now banned guns is Jan. 1, 2024. Being found out of compliance could carry up to a Class 3 felony.

The law still faces challenges in the federal courts, including two pending lawsuits in the U.S. Supreme Court. JCAR Co-Chair state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, last month said without a final court ruling, the law is the law.

“We have to assume that the law is constitutional until a court tells us that it’s not,” Cunningham said.

The registration deadline is the subject of litigation with oral arguments in the Southern District of Illinois federal court Tuesday afternoon. JCAR meets in Chicago Tuesday morning to take up revised rules. Revisions include updated definitions of various things, including who is exempt from registering, what a licensed firing range is and that airsoft components don’t need to be registered as banned attachments unless the components are attached to a firearm.

While the initial emergency rules filed on Sept. 15 are in effect, changes in the second notice rules from Illinois State Police are not yet in effect. JCAR could vote to suspend an emergency rule or prohibit a permanent rule from going into effect. That requires a supermajority of the bipartisan 12-member committee. There could also be an objection. An objection motion to the original emergency rules was brought forward by Republicans in October, but that motion failed to get a majority.

It’s expected there will be discussion about the ISP gun ban registry rules at Tuesday’s JCAR meeting, including what public comments were received, what changes have been made and what’s further to be resolved.

Cunningham said if ISP follows the proper rule making procedure, he sees the rules going forward. But, he acknowledged there will be sustained opposition from some.

“I don’t know that they’re ever going to be pleased with the final product, but we have to make sure that the state police follows the proper rulemaking procedures,” Cunningham said.

A mix of support and opposition came in during the public comment period on the emergency rules.

In a letter in support of the rules and the law, Leslie Helmcamp, executive director of Strengthening Chicago’s Youth and director of Violence Prevention Initiatives, said the law is “thoughtful” and a “research-based” approach to help curb the flow of “illegal guns” on the streets. She further said “providing oversight on firearm ownership” is associated with reductions in “gun violence and fewer mass shootings and related fatalities.”

“Implementation of this regulation will enhance law enforcement’s ability to track existing weapons while also ensuring a mechanism for the lawful transfer of firearms and relinquishment of assault weapons for individuals whose Firearm Restraining Order is revoked,” Helmcamp said. “We strongly support passage of these rules as an important step to implement PICA and safeguard our communities with effective monitoring of assault-style weapons in our state.”

Gun rights advocate Todd Vandermyde said the revised rules are vague and public notice about the rules has been “woefully inadequate.”

“And you’re gonna get two weeks to read it, digest it and figure out how it applies to you? Yeah, they mishandled this thing all the way through,” Vandermyde told The Center Square.

Since the Oct. 1 opening of the gun ban registration period, 6,141 individuals have disclosed possession of 18,457 now banned items to Illinois State Police. Of those items, 12,086 are banned firearms, 6,254 banned accessories and 117 disclosures of banned ammunition.

The total number of individuals disclosing banned items is 0.25% of the 2.4 million Firearm Owners ID card holders.

“We expect there to be more and more people as we get closer to the deadline, which is the end of the year to do so and people who don’t, obviously at some point, they will be breaking the law,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last month when the rate of FOID card holders registering banned items was 0.1%.

Second Amendment Foundation Executive Director Alan Gottlieb isn’t surprised by the low number.

“While they put these things on the books as law, they really don’t work and I think that proves it,” Gottlieb told The Center Square. “The noncompliance rates aren’t going to go up much from where they are now.”

Vandermyde said he understands those with items regulated by the federal National Firearms Act registering with ISP because they already have to register with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Illinois’ law goes further than regulating automatic firearms, which are already regulated under the NFA. Illinois’ ban regulates more than 170 semi-automatic rifles, handguns and shotguns, as well as certain attachments and .50 caliber ammunition.

“People are going to have to make up their own decision as for their risk tolerance in what they think to do,” Vandermyde said.

The penalty laid out in the second notice rules says possession of a firearm without a FOID card or possession of “an assault weapon without having completed an electronic endorsement affidavit” is a Class A misdemeanor or Class 3 or 4 felony “depending upon the circumstances of the violation.”

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