First Illinois assault weapon ban lawsuit filed challenging legality of new gun law

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
First lawsuits filed challenging Illinois assault weapons ban
Two lawsuits have now been filed that are the first legal oppositions to Illinois' new ban on assault weapons.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two lawsuits have now been filed that are the first legal oppositions to Illinois' new ban on assault weapons.

These are the first of what are expected to be a number of lawsuits challenging the assault weapons ban. They name a number of defendants, including Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly.

RELATED: Gov. Pritzker signs assault weapons ban into law

Watch the full signing ceremony for the Illinois state assault weapons ban.

Racks of assault weapons on the shelves of gun shops are still on display, but not for sale. The state ban makes it illegal to sell them or to own them without proper licensing - at least for now. A number of lawsuits aim to strike down the law passed last week by the Illinois General Assembly.

"Much of the statute is so vague and ambiguous not even laypeople, probably not many experts, can agree on what it purports to ban," attorney Thomas Maag said.

Maag filed what he believes is the first challenge to the assault weapons ban on Friday. Attorney Thomas Devore filed another suit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the law - and other groups are planning to file within the next week.

Former Republican attorney general candidate Thomas DeVore has filed a lawsuit downstate in Effingham to stop the Illinois assault weapons ban from being enforced.

Devore, who filed one of the lawsuits, says a judge in Effingham County has scheduled an emergency hearing Wednesday morning on his request for a temporary restraining order which would prevent enforcement of the law.

"The Illinois legislator wants to pass a law that restricts gun rights? Then they need to pass it procedural appropriate," DeVore said.

He said his lawsuit is not focused on federal gun rights.

"Whether a restriction is good, bad illegal or not, or violates the 2nd amendment, those are for the federal court. And right now for the state court these issues are just as big dealing with the political gamesmenship and the lack of equal protection that's going on right here in Illinois," he said.

READ MORE: Gun dealers, advocates vow to take new IL assault weapon ban to court

After Gov. JB Pritzker signed the assault weapon ban into law, gun dealers and advocates are vowing to go to the courts to reinstate sales.

"The feeling is that here is we have another piece of gun legislation authored and passed by people who simply don't know what they're talking about," said Dan Eldridridge, Illinois Gun Rights Alliance.

ALSO SEE: Over 2 dozen sheriffs refuse to enforce new Illinois assault weapons ban

In the meantime, a number of county sheriffs around the state have publicly vowed not to enforce the new law, prompting an open letter signed by 16 state legislators criticizing DuPage County Sheriff Jim Mendrick.

"They cannot pick and choose which laws they enforce. They must enforce them all," said Rep. Maura Hirschauer (D-49th District).

"I don't think we're picking and choosing, I think it's a matter of how we're interpreting it," Mendrick said. "I don't think we're interpreting this the same way."

Governor JB Pritzker, who is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, responded with a statement, saying, "The Governor is confident the courts will uphold the constitutionality of the Protect Illinois Communities Act. This legislation was the result of hundreds of hours of collaboration and cooperation between legal experts, legislators, and advocates, and it makes Illinois a safer place for every resident. Despite political grandstanding from those more beholden to the gun lobby than to the safety of their constituents, this law is in effect and protecting Illinoisans from the constant fear of being gunned down in a place of worship, at a parade, or on a street corner."