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With low compliance, Pritzker says state will work through gun registration ‘challenges’

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(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Illinois will work on the state’s gun ban registry in the weeks ahead as the law continues to face legal challenges.

While 1.22% of Illinois’ Firearm Owners ID card holders have registered now banned items with Illinois State Police by the Jan. 1 deadline, Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois board member Dan Eldridge estimates the gun ban registry compliance rate could be between 4% and 8% when considering other statistics of gun ownership rates.

“No matter how you slice it, the compliance rate is very low,” Eldridge said.

Asked about the compliance rate this week, Pritzker said aside from the low rate, it is illegal to buy or sell more than 170 semi-automatic firearms, magazines and attachments in Illinois.

“High capacity magazines are unavailable, assault weapons are unavailable to be purchased in the state of Illinois as a result of the legislation that we passed and we’ll work through the registration challenges in the next month or two,” Pritzker said.

The law was enacted a year ago this week.

“When an Illinois gun retailer stated that AR-style firearms previously made up 80% of his sales, we know the law is making a significant difference,” said state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, who sponsored the measure. “That’s one full year of nonproliferation of weapons of war.”

Eldridge said the law doesn’t just impact AR-style firearms. The law prohibits many Ruger 10/22s.

“This is a 22 rimfire rifle that most kids that get into guns would own, so right there you’ve got whatever Illinois’ portion is of three-and-a-half million guns,” he said. “It is insane how many are covered by this, potentially.”

The total number of banned firearms registered, according to ISP data, is nearly 69,000.

Despite preliminary efforts to block the law having largely failed, legal challenges persist. Friday afternoon, Southern District of Illinois federal Judge Stephen McGlynn will hold a scheduling conference for a constitutional challenge on the merits of the law. He’s expected to ask litigants what kinds of witnesses or experts they want for evidentiary hearings in the case.

Eldridge said the courts are far from done dealing with challenges, especially as rules remain incomplete and confusing.

“On the merits, the vagueness is a great claim and it’s only made stronger by this circus,” Eldridge told The Center Square.

Pritzker heralded this week’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to not hear the challenge brought by state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur. Caulkins lost his challenge in the Illinois Supreme Court in August and filed for a hearing in December. After a conference of U.S. Supreme Court justices, they denied his request.

“Another attempt to overturn our assault weapons ban has been DENIED!,” Pritzker said on X, formerly Twitter. “No matter the roadblocks, I’ll never stop fighting against the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda.”

But, other issues could still come up in state court, including whether training requirements are enough to allow for exempt classes to have certain semi-automatic firearms the general public is prohibited from possessing.

After last year’s Illinois Supreme Court hearing of Caulkins’ case, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said training is just one component dictating who can have what.

“You play a different role, right. It’s not just about training. You’re not in a law enforcement role, I don’t think,” Raoul said.

DeVore questioned that concept.

“The lawyers argued over and over that these exempt categories have training, specialized training in the … banned weapons. It’s not true,” DeVore told The Center Square. “It was a lie when they said it in the courtroom. It’s a lie as we sit here today.”

Still pending is DeVore’s request for an Effingham County judge to revive his case that was vacated after Caulkins’ case was decided by the Illinois Supreme Court.

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